When I was a kid, I used to love to collect baseball cards. I would continually try to get my parents to buy me a pack of baseball cards every time we went to the store. I would even seek ways to get some money so that I could go and buy some myself. I still have around 1,000 baseball cards to this day tucked away in a box.
The thing is, I didn’t collect them just to stuff them away, at least not at that time. I would collect them so that I could trade them with my friends to try and get better cards than the ones that I had already collected. I mean, nobody wanted to trade away their baseball cards for other cards that aren’t as good, or that aren’t worth as much in their own eyes. We always traded for something better. Some kids would even offer a few cards in order to get the one card they wanted most of all at that time.
There is a story in Scripture of something very similar occurring between twin brothers. Some of you may remember the story: It is of Jacob and Esau, who were born to Isaac and Rebekah. Esau had been out hunting one day and returned to the camp famished, and to make things worse, he could smell the stew that Jacob had been cooking. Esau asked Jacob to give him some of the stew because he was so hungry, and Jacob decided to “trade” with his brother.
Genesis 25:31-34 records for us the barter. “But Jacob said, ‘First sell me your birthright.’ Esau said, ‘Behold I am about to die; so of what use then is the birthright to me?’ And Jacob said, ‘First swear to me’; 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 on his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.”
Esau traded something of extreme worth for something temporary. He wanted his craving filled so badly that he was willing to trade his birthright for it. A birthright meant that he would get the blessing from his father and receive a double portion. This was something that you didn’t just give away for a temporary satisfaction. When Esau did this, he showed that he preferred a temporary satisfaction over what was of greater value and worth.
What about in our culture? I dare say that this same thing goes on even today with some of those who “profess” to be Christian. You see, true Christians have been given the greatest birthright, or should I say “re-birthright,” that could ever be given. This birthright is of greater value than anything you could ever imagine; yet so many professing Christians “trade” the birthright or at least portions of the birthright they profess to have, for temporary satisfactions.
Every time you choose a temporary satisfaction, which this world offers, over our Lord and Savior or over what He has instructed us to do, you are trading portions of the birthright away. You show that you value the temporary satisfactions over the eternal rewards; you are showing our Heavenly Father that you desire the things of the flesh over the things of the Spirit. My friends, this should not be.
True believers might choose a temporary satisfaction at times, but they will never turn completely away from their King and their promised birthright. Those who continually show a lifestyle of choosing the temporary satisfactions over the eternal ones, show that they never truly possessed the true birthright to begin with. Which one is most important to you, the temporary or the eternal?
Take a spiritual inventory and see how you hold up. Are you trading the greater for the lesser? May God give you the strength to say “No” to this world and “Yes” to Jesus Christ.
The Rev. James Cole is pastor of Sovereign Grace Community Church in Grovetown.