Esau sells his Birthright, a reflection on Self-Control
32 “Look, I’m dying of starvation!” said Esau. “What good is my birthright to me now?” Genesis 25:32 (NLT)
The story about Esau selling his Birthright starts on Genesis 25:27-34.
The Bible tells us that as the boys grew older, Esau became a skillful hunter, an outdoorsman, while Jacob was of quiet temperament, who preferred staying home and shepherding flocks of sheep and goats.
One day, when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau arrived home from the wilderness exhausted and hungry; and seeing his brother Jacob preparing some food, he asked if he could have some of it.
Jacob accepted but with one condition. He was willing to give the stew to his brother only if he had sold his birthright. Uh! Did Jacob actually have to demand birthright in exchange, for just a plate of food? Weren’t they family and aren’t they supposed to be helping each other? You may ask.
You see, both Esau and Jacob knew that birthright was a special honor given to the firstborn son. It included a double portion of the family inheritance along with the honor of one day becoming the family’s leader.
Esau, as the oldest son, had the option to sell his birthright or give it away if he chose to do so; and in so doing, he also knew what would be the consequences.
He also knew he would be losing both material goods and his leadership position, if he chose to give it away. So, it is not as if he was uninformed of the benefits or consequences to assume that He was being tricked.
Esau had other options as well. He could have gone straight to his mother Rebekah and asked for food if he really wanted to eat; but instead, in Genesis 25:32, his response was:
32 “Look, I’m dying of starvation!” said Esau. “What good is my birthright to me now?”
Here we see how Esau traded the lasting benefits of his birthright for the immediate pleasures of food. Meditating on this verse, one may wonder; was Esau actually dying of his starvation, or was it just an exaggeration?
However, if it was an exaggeration, it is clear that he acted on impulse, satisfying his immediate desires without pausing for a moment to think what would be the consequences in the long run.
By trading his birthright, Esau showed disregard for the spiritual blessings that would have come his way if he had decided to keep it.
And here are the questions:
- Can we judge him? Of course not…
- How many of us are just like him?
- How many of us fall into similar situations every time we see something we like and we won’t stop until we get it, despite the long-term consequences it may have?
- How many of us have destroyed families, have left fatherless or motherless children, for seconds of pleasures?
Just remember how Ahab, king of Samaria went home disturbed and angry, where he even turned away from food, only because Naboth the Jezreelite, refused to sell his vineyard that was close to the king’s palace; and as a result, Jezebel, the king’s wife plotted evil against the poor man, just for a piece of land. 1 Kings 21:1-16
Here is where the grace of self-control comes into play.
You see, very often, because of our self-centered nature, lack of self-control, envy, greed or don’t care attitude; we tend to make permanent decisions to relieve temporary problems.
We forget about everything else and all its consequences, if we can only get what we want at that exact moment.
We lose perspective, every time we allow our evil desires to wage war within us. So the best way to avoid it is by comparing the short-term satisfaction with its long-term consequences before we act.
We should, most of all, beg Almighty God, that with his mercy, He may bless us with the fruits of the Holy Spirit, just as it is written in Galatians 5:22-24; “but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
Father God, thank You for blessing us with self-control. Please allow us to be less self-centered. You know well how weak we are and evil minded we can be. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit who was sent to guide us and keep us safe from all danger and even from ourselves. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.