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Posts Tagged ‘trading our birthright’

When I first made the decision to live for the Lord, I didn’t immediately commit to the idea of reading the Bible.  After all, there seemed to be so many great Bible teachers out there, and I really wasn’t much of a reader.  But it didn’t take long to realize that if I was going to have a “personal relationship”, I was going to have to find out for myself what God’s word said.  Like most novices, I started at the beginning, which isn’t wrong, but which ultimately makes for a difficult maiden voyage.  I was doing fine as I worked my way through the book of Genesis, until I came to the story of Jacob and Esau.

 

As I read about these twin brothers, I was confused.  From the beginning Esau seemed like a pretty regular guy, while Jacob (which literally means heel grabber) seemed like a lying, manipulating, con man.  While I certainly understood the foolishness of Esau’s decision to trade his birthright for a bowl of stew, I was shocked when I read that God “loved Jacob” and that He “hated Esau”.  How could God approve of a liar like Jacob and hate a normal guy like Esau.  I was afraid to ask much about this scripture for fear that there was some really obvious point I’d missed, or that maybe sometime later in the scripture I’d find some terrible thing Esau had done.  I decided to pray that God would help me to understand, and not long after that I realized that He had.

 

The first thing I recognized was that the text didn’t endeavor to tell me all about Esau, just what God felt I needed to know.  In light of that, it is probably a safe assumption that the incident where he trades his birthright is a “defining moment” in Esau’s life, and ultimately Gods way of telling me about his character.  If this were an isolated incident then God’s grace would undoubtedly have been sufficient; but it is very likely that there were many other incidents God could have shared and that this story exemplifies what He hated in Esau’s character.

 

As I pondered what this passage revealed about Esau, I sensed that he was a man of appetites, and that those appetites were most often what ruled him. That he was one who most often traveled the path of least resistance, choosing what was expedient over what was sacred; a man who would trade that which is unseen & ordained by God for what is seen & satisfying to the flesh.  Since God hates anything that hurts His children, He hates those attitudes that keep us bound to our situation, and away from His divine provision.

 

It is certainly the nature of man to be attracted to the path of least resistance, and we live in a culture which has little tolerance for anything that isn’t immediately satisfying.  These are two significant strikes against us as we endeavor to live a life for the Lord.  Jesus told His disciples that no servant is greater than their Master, that they hated Him first, and that they would undoubtedly hate His followers as well.  He also said that if anyone was going to follow Him, they would have to take up their cross daily.  The scripture also clearly calls us to a life of holiness, which means being separated unto God and His purposes.

 

All of these things (and many more) tell us that the Christian life is one that is filled with resistance; from our flesh, from the world, and from the enemy of our souls.  While it is our natural tendency to want to keep our flesh satisfied, the word tells us that what is satisfying to our flesh is contrary to the Spirit.  Likewise we quite easily get focused on what is happening around us, while God’s word says that we need to focus on the unseen, eternal things.  In our natural state we tend to be very reactive and impatient, while the Lord exhorts us to live a life by His Spirit, which includes manifestations of self-control and patience.  Without making a conscious commitment to move in a different direction, we are all likely to default to Esau’s lifestyle; just trying to get our perceived needs met, living by our instincts, and trading our eternal inheritance for a bowl of dead flesh.

 

In the end, the path of least resistance proves to be the way of death.  The word says that broad is the road that leads to destruction, and that narrow is the road that leads to life. It goes on to say that “few find” that narrow path.  We live in a culture that strives to live a pain free existence, in which all of our desires are instantly gratified.  Heaven help us if we find success in that endeavor, because one day our well-fed flesh is going to perish, and we may find that there is nothing to sustain our immortal soul.

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