Forsake Instant Gratification

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 25:34)

How often we are just like Esau? In a single impulsive moment, we settle for far less than God’s best for our lives because we want whatever it is right now to fill up some emptiness inside, rather than fixing our focus on the only One who can and will meet our every need. If you see a little bit of Esau in yourself today, then please read on . . . and be encouraged!

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!” . . . 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. (Genesis 25:29-34)

Esau traded the lasting benefits of his birthright for the immediate, momentary pleasure of a meal. Esau wanted to solve the immediate problem of his hunger instantly without ever considering the long-term consequences of his actions. We have all done the same thing at some point (or points) in our lives. We see something we want, and without counting the cost we reach for it. In that moment we believe we are satisfied, but more often than not, fleeting pleasure leads to lasting pain. The lure of instant gratification blinds us to lasting heartache that lurks just around the corner.

We are all very much like Esau in exaggerating what we think we need. Was Esau really “about to die” from starvation? Perhaps he had missed a meal when he was out in the open country, but his desire was inflamed by the smell of food, which extinguished his good sense to shun instant gratification and embrace eternal gain.

We have many examples of making the same mistake in our own lives. Here are just a few:

  • Trading family time for business success
  • Trading the pleasures of food for poor health
  • Trading ease for activity that leads to sickness
  • Trading wants for needs

So how do we keep from making the same mistake Esau made? We forsake instant gratification. The key to doing this is to “count the cost” (Luke 14:28) of our actions by comparing the short-term pleasure against the long-term pain.

It is easy to fritter away great portions of our lives chasing after things that don’t really matter—or worse, things that cause great pain and harm. May the testimony of Esau’s life—“He ate and drank and then got up and left”—not be the testimony of our lives. The rest of the story reminds us of the bitter regret Esau felt after he thought through what he had done. A little extra thought and prayer on the front end will save us great pain and regret on the back end when we forsake instant gratification. This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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