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Posts Tagged ‘trading our birthright’

When I first made the decision to try to live my life for the Lord, I didn’t immediately commit myself to reading the Bible.  But I soon realized that if I was going to have a “personal relationship”, I was going to have to find out for myself what the scripture 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 got confused.  From the beginning Esau seemed like a decent guy, but Jacob (which literally means heel grabber) seemed like a lying, manipulating, con-man.

I understood that Esau definitely made a bad decision in trading his birthright for a bowl of stew, but I was shocked when I read that God loved Jacob and he “hated” Esau.  How could God approve of a liar like Jacob, and hate a regular guy like Esau?

I was afraid to ask much about this scripture for fear that it was something really obvious that I’d missed, or that maybe sometime later in the scripture I’d find out what terrible thing Esau did.  I decided to pray that God would help me to understand this, and not long after that I realized that He did.

The first thing I had to realize was that the Bible didn’t tell me all about Esau, just what God wanted me to know.  The incident where he decides that he is so hungry that he trades in his birthright is a “defining moment” in Esau’s life, and 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 incident told me 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, who would take what was expedient over what was sacred, and 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 these attitudes, which 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 them as well.  He also said that if anyone was going to follow Him, that they must take up their cross daily.

The word 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 reflex to want to keep our flesh satisfied, the word tells us that what is satisfying to our flesh is contrary to the Spirit.  Similarly, it is a very natural tendency to get focused on what is happening around us, while God 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 will all tend 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 scripture 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 which strives to live a pain free existence, in which all 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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