Today’s Reading: Genesis 25-26 Matthew 18:1-20,
29 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30 He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.[f]) 1Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.” 32“Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?” 33But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. 34Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.
He knew he shouldn’t look, but his eighteen year old body was craving the fantasies that he had only conjured up in his mind. He was “saving himself for marriage.” Everybody knew it. His chastity ring was the talk of his freshman class at the local Junior College. But now she stood in front of him on the parking lot at school and her top was lower cut than his sisters were allowed to wear and her dress was shorter. He looked. He looked until his shyness abated. He looked up just in time to see that she was looking at him. She walked toward him. She asked him to go for a ride. He quickly slipped off his ring and said “yes.”
Of course I’m talking about the story of Jacob and Esau. Sound farfetched? Esau was the firstborn son of Isaac and with his birth came special rights of property that were to be passed down to him. Jacob did not have those rights but he valued them. Esau came in from the field famished. We are vulnerable when we are hungry. That’s why they say you shouldn’t shop for groceries when you are hungry. You will spend too much.
The next word that stands out to me is “quick”. We get in trouble when we try to do things quick. The boy in our story makes an impulse decision just as Esau makes an impulsive decision. It’s amazing how many people trade what is best for what is quick.
Esau wasn’t dying of hunger. A man can make it forty days without food without a detrimental impact on his health. We get in trouble when we exaggerate the pain we are in.
The real problem with Esau was that he “despised his birthright”. He didn’t treasure that which he did not immediately possess. Integrity is a long distance race and too often we don’t value our integrity enough and we throw it away for instant gratification.
Does my story seem like too much of a stretch. Listen to these words from the writer of Hebrews, “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. 17 Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.”(Hebrews 12:16-17) Esau’s story is not unusual at all. It happens every day. What was wrong with the boy in my story? He was too hungry, he was too quick, and he didn’t value his integrity enough. He went grocery shopping when he was hungry.
If you are like me, there are times in your life when you have been more like Esau than Jacob. Take a moment to ask yourself some sobering questions. How much do I value my integrity? Am I hungry for the things of God or hungry for the world. Are the decisions I am making rash or well thought out? Don’t Shop for Groceries When You’re Hungry.