“Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.) Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.”
Many are all too familiar with this story. Esau was exhausted and famished that he did not think twice to sell his birthright in exchange for a portion of Jacob’s stew. During a time when a birthright was considered holy, it would be reckless to give this up. Not only would one relinquish his rights and privileges, he is also giving up his leadership role in the family and an inheritance twice that of the other sons.
For us Christians, our birthright is our spiritual inheritance – our position in Christ after having been saved by God’s grace.
After reading this, many will be quick to say that they would never do anything as rash as Esau’s actions, but how many times have we nonchalantly shrugged off our position in Christ for something trivial and temporary?
Proverbs 19:2 says
Desire without knowledge is not good,
and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.
It is not wise to make rash decisions when you are highly emotional. It could either be you are too happy, too depressed, too angry or in a state that you cannot really think straight or rationally.
Just like Esau, most people give up or sell their birthright when they are:
- Exhausted (v.30) – Esau was tired and famished from hunting his game.
- Exaggerated (v.32) – “I am about to die!” Nobody dies just by skipping a meal!
- Execrate (strongly despise) (v.34) – The negation of love is not to hate. The absence of love is called “despise”. It means like you don’t give it much importance or value.
Reflection: What have I been desiring so much that I have or almost given up my birthright?
If we have any respect to how holy our birthright is, and if we truly value it, we should not exchange what is given to us by our Father for the sake of temporary pleasure.