Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.) Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.” “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?” But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright. – Genesis 25:29-43
I love this story about Isaac’s sons from Genesis.
It’s almost comical the way the story plays out. It really does seem like a setup from an 80s family sitcom. The jock brother walks in and demands what the homebody brother is cooking. The jock brother sells his birthright and, by the end of the episode, both brothers learn the value of a birthright as well as the value of family.
The only question remaining is which brother would Kirk Cameron have played?
The more I’ve thought about that story, though, the more I see myself in Esau and his compulsiveness. Esau wasn’t starving; he could have waited a little longer in order to have dinner. Because he was so dominated by his impulses, though, he traded away who he was for immediate satisfaction.
How often do I do that with who I am?
How often do we do that with our identity in Christ?
We have a birthright since being adopted into God’s family. We are children of God and he has enabled us to live as such. Unfortunately, though, like Esau we often trade our birthright because we’re impulsive and don’t want to hold out for something better.
Every time we choose selfishness over service.
Every time we choose indifference over love.
Every time we choose sin over obedience.
Every time we do that we’re choosing red stew over our birthright.
Whatever our red stew it cannot compare to the glorious riches we have in being called children of God. No matter how impatient or impulsive, God always has something better for us than a bowl of red stew. We just have to be willing to open our eyes, see the red stew for what it is and actively pursue our birthright.
Esau despised his birthright.
We cannot despise ours; it was bought at too great a price.
And it is far more valuable than any red stew.
How do you pursue your birthright instead of your red stew?