Now or Later – January 11, 2019

Genesis 24.52-26.16
Matthew 8.18-34
Psalm 10.1-15
Proverbs 3.7-8

The story of Esau selling his birthright is such an interesting story because of the shocking nature of the sale of something so valuable. The firstborn, based solely on the order of his birth, received an extra portion of his father’s inheritance when the father passed away. The son received recognition and perhaps a higher honor during his father’s life, but the real blessing would have been the tangible reward he would receive upon his father’s death.

Of course, this blessing was also a challenge. The eldest son had to wait for his father to pass away to ever receive the monetary blessing of this inheritance. And that wait could easily Seem. Like. Forever.

This is what is happening here in our story today. Esau had a problem. He was hungry. Esau also seemingly had a solution: his brother Jacob was a great cook and just happened to have some stew. Jacob, come to find out, was more than willing to share some of the stew he had prepared … for a price.

We might ask ourselves: How good was that stew? Worth our birthright? Worth giving up the extra portion of our inheritance? Man, that really WAS some good stew, if so.

To Esau, the equation was not one of net worth, it was one of current, immediate, physical need. His desire—his only desire—was to find something to fill his stomach and avoid, in his own words, starvation.

Was Esau really going to starve? I doubt it. It was somewhat akin to my children, after stubbing a toe or bumping into something saying: I’m dying. (My response? Yes, you are in the process of dying, but except in rare circumstances, that is not happening in the next couple of minutes!) When one feels like they are dying, or starving in Esau’s cause, their desire is to correct the problem as quickly as possible, regardless of the cost or net worth of the tradeoff.

Here is where the story gets really challenging: it is a description of what we do all of the time. We sacrifice the value of something important down the road for the immediacy of (reduced value) gratification right now. The problem with that mentality is the reward of the immediate never compares to the blessings of what takes time.

I am a big fan of BBQ. Can you imagine going to your favorite BBQ place and ordering a plate of sliced brisket, then watching the person behind the counter placing a slice of raw meat in a microwave? Do you really think that meat will taste as good as a slice of brisket smoked over a long period of time?

Your faith grows in a similar way. Following Jesus and becoming mature is the result of a long time of faithful obedience, not a momentary decision to trade what is valuable for what is immediate.

So, what’s your choice? Now or later?

Questions:

How do you think Rebekah dealt with the knowledge of the prophecy claiming her twin boys would be rivals and competing nations? In what way would such a blessing affect how you would raise your children?

In what ways do you see the excuses given by the people claiming they would follow Jesus as lame excuses? In what ways were they legitimate? How do we make similar excuses about following Jesus today?

List all of the descriptions of a wicked person from Psalm 10. Do you know this person? Are you this person?

Where do you see people who are impressed with their own wisdom? How do we prevent ourselves from being impressed with our own wisdom?

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