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Jacob and Esau

(Genesis 25:29-34; 27:30-37)

Lesson 8 -- third quarter 1999
July 25, 1999

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1999, Christian Light Publications

I wonder what might be the modern-day corollaries of this lesson's incidents between Esau and Jacob. Jacob certainly suffered from no overdose of nobility, but Esau shall be the particular focus of our attention.

Esau, a man absorbed with the present. Esau, a man distracted by the temporal. Esau, a man driven by his passions. No wonder Esau despised his heritage and his inheritance. No wonder he settled for soup.

Now let's be as honest and sincere as we can. Here is our question: What are some situations where we just might choose according to material "imperatives" rather than according to spiritual principles?

Money vs Service. Money is imperative in our society, as no doubt it is in most societies. Without it we can't very well cover the expenses of living in the present and preparing for the future. Even so, this imperative must yield to the principle of service. Would you rather be a voluntary service teacher on the Mexico mission field or a farm hand in an Oregon cabbage field? (Should your rathers have anything to do with the matter, anyway?) The choice is between $110 a month and $6 an hour. NO IT ISN'T!! But I'll let you determine what the real choices are. On the other hand, your decision may not involve mission fields and cabbage fields. It may be as "simple" as donating your time (and delaying a certain acquisition) to the deacon's remodeling project.

Pleasure vs Sacrifice. Fun is another imperative. Well, let me try again with more palatable terminology. Rest, recreation and relaxation are essential to our well-being. Whatever we call it, the imperative of pleasure must yield to the principle of sacrifice. It may involve giving up a softball-and-pizza evening to mow the church cemetery and pull weeds in a widow's garden. I know, that's really not much for sacrifice, but sometimes it is those "small" ones that really defeat us.

Convenience vs Conscience. Dare we call convenience an imperative? Perhaps not, but we certainly do dare live as though it were precisely that! But the Christian must choose to live by the principle of conscience, no matter how much that may inconvenience us. Got any practical applications for this point?

Oh, one more thing. Did you notice that the first items in the three sets above are not necessarily wrong or out-of-bounds for the Christian? But then, neither is soup!

So there you have it, incompletely compressed into a few paragraphs: Will you die for your spiritual heritage or will you opt for the soup kitchen? I must remind myself here (and you can listen in) that this question is not most accurately answered in the monumental decisions, but in the normal decisions of everyday life.

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