How many trade-offs do we make?
How many times to we choose what is expedient, or what feels better in the short-term, instead of what is right and will last forever?
The writer of Hebrews gives an important warning to us to not do this.
What did Esau do? Esau was Jacob’s older brother, the first-born of Isaac and Rebekah. As the first-born, he should have received the birthright from his father. He should have been the one to receive the blessing of God and the blessing of the family.
But what did he do? He came home from hunting and was hungry. He didn’t care about his rights within the family, which would have given him a double portion of the inheritance and a place in the eternal line of Christ. The scriptures even say that he despised his birthright.
So Jacob, seeing his opportunity, tells Esau that he must swear to him that he, Esau, would give him, Jacob, the second-born, his birthright. And that is what he does. In Esau’s foolishness, in his search for an expedient solution to his hunger, he swears to Jacob that he will give his birthright…and it is over. Jacob now takes Esau’s place.
And for what?
A bowl of soup.
Later on, we see that Esau regreted what he had done. In fact, with Rebekah’s help, Jacob also deceives his father Isaac and takes Esau’s blessing. Jacob will be the one who will carry on the blessing of God, not Esau. Esau cries bitterly, but it is done. Jacob has the birthright and he has the blessing. For the longer-term rewards of the family, Jacob has it all. Esau has none.
Here is how the writer of Hebrews says it:
See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.Hebrews 12:16-17
So let’s return back to the initial questions… How often do we do the same? How often are we like Esau?
To answer that question, let’s look at a couple of ways that we could imitate Esau.
First, we could despise what we have been given. We have been given a pathway into eternity, if we are willing to look to Christ as Savior and Lord.
But instead, we want to be the ruler of our own lives. We want to manage it on our own. We want to be the ones who lead our lives. We want to be unique. Rich. Powerful. We want to lead our own lives, kings ourselves instead of worshiping the King.
So as a result, we have more important things to do. We don’t have time to think about God. We have work to do.
I’ve had people tell me these exact words. Someday… In the future… Maybe… Once I am rich, then I will think about God. But for right now, I have things to do. I have to work. Right now, no. Maybe one day.
Even if we don’t say it, we often live it. We think primarily about the things of the world, not the things of God. We think more about what will please other men, not about what will please God. And our actions reflect these things. We are acting like Esau, thinking about today, those things that are temporary, not that which will last forever.
In a similar way, our sin does the same. In reality, what we have said above is sin because we walk away from God, from loving Him with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. We walk away from a desire to please Him.
But then it just continues to get worse. Because we don’t have a desire to please Him, to love Him, then we are willing to do much more. To go further. To break other commandments and find ourselves mired in sin even more deeply. And this is the same. This is the same thought process that Esau had.
What I want is what I want. And that is what I will have. The rest, that which is eternally important be damned. I will have what I want now. And we despise the birthright that God has offered to each of us through Christ. We are blinded by our desires of today so much that we only think about those things, not the truths of eternity.
Let us not despise the birthright that God offers us through Christ. Let us instead grab ahold of that which is eternal. We all know that this life will end. Let’s live wisely today to invest in what is eternal, not just living in the moment for what is temporary.