This generation appears to live by the motto of “I want it and I want it right now!” We desire immediate gratification perhaps more than any other group of people who have ever lived. It is a problem that has affected us at many levels.
Why does the young couple make the decision to commit fornication instead of saving themselves for marriage? Immediate gratification. Why does the married man turn to pornography for sexual fulfillment rather than his wife? Immediate gratification. Why do the depressed turn to alcohol rather than enduring tough times? Immediate gratification. Why do many buy unnecessary items on credit rather than waiting until they can pay cash? Immediate gratification. Every day, millions of people make poor decisions because they want to find that special feeling “right now.”
The story of Jacob and Esau’s negotiations over a bowl of “red stuff” (as one translation puts it) is a story of immediate gratification. Esau returns home, weary from hunting in the fields. He is tired and hungry. Imagine walking all day to look for wild game and then returning home to the sweet-swelling aroma of your brother’s cooking. We know that Jacob spent much of his time in the tent and was his mother’s favorite. It’s likely that he was a very skilled cook. The lentils referenced in the text of Genesis 25 were most likely a delicacy in that day that had a specific aroma.
The Common English Version reads, “One day, Jacob was cooking some stew when Esau came home hungry and said, “˜I’m starving to death! Give me some of that red stew right now!'” There it is—the desire for immediate gratification. Esau profaned and despised his birthright, trading the rights of the firstborn male to his younger brother for a bowl of red stew because he wanted some “right now!”
There is a lesson for all of us in Genesis 25. We learn about the danger of “right now.” Too often, we think in the “right now” rather than what is to come. Paul said in Philippians 3:12-14 that he pressed on toward the “prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” In other words, Paul didn’t make decisions based on what he wanted right now. Paul made his choices based on what he wanted when he would leave “right now” behind. Paul’s eyes were fixed on heaven. That is why we, as Christians, are supposed to be different. We are to be more concerned about the rewards we will receive after we leave this life than the rewards, gadgets, toys and successes we receive here on earth. I emphasize “supposed to be different” because while that should be who we are, it appears we often fall short.
All of us have traded our birthright for “bowls of stew.” Our birthright, or inheritance, as God’s children is eternal life. When we sin, we are throwing that inheritance away because we want the pleasures of this earth “right now!” The Hebrew writer said that Esau was “profane” when he sold the birthright (Hebrews 12:15-16, KJV). We too have made ourselves profane by selling our inheritance for the things of this world.
Let’s learn from Esau. Let’s stop selling our inheritance for “bowls of stew.” Let’s quit giving in to the temptations of immediate gratification. Let’s fix our eyes on heaven. Let’s endure now so that we can lay hold of our inheritance when the Day comes.
– Terry Francis