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Genesis 25:19-34

Living in the twenty-first century is exhausting at times. An individual cannot turn on the television, open a computer screen, or look at their phone without being encouraged by the latest trend, which can make them thinner, smarter, and more efficient with less time. Each ad encourages consumers to try the 21-day sugar detox, 30-day Ab challenge, or save up for Amazon Prime day—“Big Savings”. Growing in popularity is wearable technology. It seems all major companies are creating and designing wearable products to encourage consumers to get off the couch and start training for the next 5k. Many products and companies are marketing machines for targeting consumers with newer is better; new features, longer batter life and greater training diversity. How easily society fall into this trap?

In reading Genesis 25:19-34, Esau also fall prey to a temporal fix to a momentary need. Isaac pleaded with God for his childless wife, Rebekah, to bear a child. The Lord heard Isaac’s prayers and granted the couple two sons, which “struggled with each other in the womb.”[Genesis 25:22] Rebekah asked the Lord, “Why is this happening to me?”. The Lord replied, “The sons in your womb will become two nations. From the very beginning, the two nations will be rivals. One nation will be stronger than the other; and your older son will serve your younger son.” The boys were born with one on the heel of another. The rather shocking part is not how the boys enter the world but how they lived in the world.

Esau was an avid outdoorsman born with thick red hair, which covered his body like a fur coat. Jacob was a quiet tempered boy who stayed close to the home. Each parent is noted as favoring one of the boys over another, Rebekah favored Jacob and Isaac favored Esau. Being the eldest Esau was entitled to the birthright, which was a special honor. As the firstborn son he was entitled to double portion of the family inheritance along with with the honor of one day becoming the family’s leader. He could sell his birthright or give it away if he chose, but in so doing, he would lose both material goods and his leadership position.

Verses 29-34 seem rather odd knowing Esau was entitled to a double portion of the family inheritance and the honor of one day becoming the family’s leader. His birthright was equated to a bowl of stew. The passage shares how Esau returned from the wilderness hunger and exhausted. He pleaded with Jacob for some red stew, but Jacob refused unless Esau gave him the birthright. Esau relented and swore an oath to bestow his birthright to Jacob, which in return gave Esau bread and lentil stew.

Esau relinquished his birthright for the momentary satisfaction of stew. He acted on impulse trying to meet his immediate desires without pausing to consider the long-range consequences of what he was about to do. Verse 34 says Esau showed contempt for his rights as the firstborn. The painful truth is as a society we often fall into the same “immediate need” trap, which is Esau found himself. We want the instantaneous fix to our health, relational, and financial needs, which drives us to buy the latest gadget promising immediate results.

Unlike Esau we are not selling our birthright but we are making choices based on a perceived immediate need. We have the opportunity to look at the value of how we invest our time, resources and energies. We can avoid making Esau’s mistake by comparing the short-term satisfaction with the long-term benefits or consequences. Society seems to drive competition by encouraging people to play the comparison game. If we only had the latest device or if I only had the latest fashion trends or if I only had that new car…the list can go on endlessly and we will always fall short when our yard stick is society. Our neighbors will quickly become the ones we “resent” because they have the latest toys or the ones we no longer want to associate with because we cannot keep up with their standard.

We as people of God are called to look beyond to the Kingdom of God and to experience the breaking in of the Kingdom now. We can compare each other by society’s market standards or we can look with eyes of love on each other. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, wrote The Cost of Discipleship a book illuminating the relationship between ourselves and the teachings of Jesus. A quote from his work, which serves well the point of love conquering all in light of life’s enemies, says: “For then it is not the disciple’s own love, but the love of Jesus alone, who for the sake of his enemies went to the cross and prayed for them as he hung there. In the face of the cross the disciples realized that they too were his enemies, and that he had overcome them by his love. It is this that opens the disciple’s eyes, and enables him to see his enemy as a brother. He knows that he owes his very life to the One, who though he was his enemy, treated him as a brother and accepted him, who made him his neighbor, and drew him into fellowship with himself.” In light of the truth of the Cross, the disciples and followers today, can now perceive that even our enemies are the object of God’s love. God is the perfect example of love—that is the glory of his love, as every follower knows…through Jesus we have become participants of His love.

May the decisions you make and the choices you embrace drive you to see the other with eyes of love and not eyes of comparison. We all have choices to make and they do not always need to be the same.