Worst Deal Ever
Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Genesis 25:31-33
It’s a story I’ve heard many times over – I knew the consequences but I did it anyway. I wanted a different life. But in that moment, when the drug was in front of me, I knew it would destroy everything, but I chose it anyway.
I’ve been there. I understood what I would lose in my drug addiction. I knew that my marriage, faith, job and career would all fall apart if I used drugs. I wasn’t trying to lose those things. The thinking part of my brain wanted family, faith, and recovery. When the time came to make a choice about the pills though, the thinking part of my brain wasn’t in control. By that time, I’d already surrendered so often to the impulsive, appetite-driven part of my brain, that it wasn’t even a struggle. I took the pill, flushing the rest of my life away in a heartbeat. Damn the consequences. I got my high, but it was the worst deal of my life as the high faded and I was left holding an absolute disaster.
This is the all-too-human behavior displayed by Esau in today’s passage. In the story, Jacob was cooking some stew, when his twin (slightly older) brother came in from the field. Exhausted and hungry, Esau demanded some stew and Jacob proposed a trade. Give me your inheritance for it. As the firstborn, Esau was entitled to a double inheritance, a ceremonial blessing from their father, and the leadership position in the family. This was an absurd deal by any standard. But, in that moment, with his stomach controlling his behavior, Esau chose the absurd. Damn the consequences. This was one of the worst deals in history, as Esau surrendered his entire future for a little food.
This is our life problem. We know that Christ asks us to abandon self, obey God, and love our neighbors. In theory, we want to obey. When it comes down to it though, we simply want to live our own way. We think we’re getting what we want, but this is the worst deal ever – to give up that which God intends for us, for whatever we think we want right now. God desires that we experience new life in him, but we only get there by abandoning self to follow him. That may seem as if we’re surrendering everything, but all we’re giving up is our self-inflicted misery, while we gain authentic life, joy, and peace. And that, is the best deal ever.