Think about your prized possession for a moment. It doesn’t matter what it is, just think about the actual physical item that is your favourite, most valuable possession. Now think about what that item is actually worth. If it were sitting on a table at a yard sale, what would the sticker price say? For some of us, our most valuable item may actually be worth a considerable amount of money, but I’m willing to guess that for the majority of us, our most valuable item may not be of much value at all to somebody else.
Assuming there is no loss of life, this is where the real tragedy comes in when someone loses a home to a fire. Sure you may have insurance on the contents of your house, but a dollar figure will not necessarily replace the items that you’ve lost. In many cases, even if an identical version of the item you lost could be found and paid for, it would not hold the same value as the original to you. A lot more goes into the value of an item then the actual price paid for it.
How do we determine the value of things? Most of us have come to understand that the true value of any item that we might have is not found in the item itself but in how we received that item. That birthday card that your child made for you with a couple of crayons and a piece of construction paper is literally worth nothing in terms of its dollar value, yet to you it maybe one of the most valuable things that you could ever own. That Bible that you’ve had for many, many years, you have marked in it, cried over it, and spent so much time in it. As a physical book it is be worn out, the cover might be missing, and pages are torn. To somebody else it might be of very little value, but to you it is irreplaceable.
Ultimately the true measure of the value of anything that you possess comes down to the value you place on the person that gave you the item. The way that you treasure that item really doesn’t reflect the dollar value of it, but the emotional value, the meaning behind it, and how much you value the person that gave it to you.
In Genesis 25 we find the story of Jacob and Esau.
This is the account of Abraham’s son Isaac. Abraham became the father of Isaac, and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram and sister of Laban the Aramean.
Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the LORD. The LORD said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated, one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”
When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them.
The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was a quiet man, staying among the tents. Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob. 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!” (That is why he was also called Edom.)
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. Then 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 25:19-35
The story of Jacob and Esau is a very intriguing one. The are a number of hard to answer questions. How is it that One son is considered to be the son of the promise while the other one is not? How is it that one son can be elevated above another when they are twins? How is it that the son whom God chooses seems to be the one who is in the wrong in the story, while the son He rejects seems to be the victim?
Jacob comes across like a crooked weasel of a man, while Esau loses everything and apparently at no fault of his own. Jacob rips him off, he takes advantage of his brothers weakness and then later takes advantage of his own father’s weakness. How is it that this man is the one God chooses over the other?
Sure, Jacob stole from his brother, but in reality it was Esau who ripped off himself and all of his future generations. It doesn’t seem right to us that Jacob used his brother’s weak moment to get a birthright and steal a blessing. But the truth of the matter is that Esau was not worthy of what was his. He was the rightful firstborn son and he was the rightful heir to his father’s wealth and to his father’s blessing. He gave away something he would have had for his lifetime, something he ought to have been able to pass on to his children and children’s children for generations, he traded it all for a brief moment of physical satisfaction.
His birthright should have been his legacy forever and he traded it for a meal, he traded it to calm a hunger that would return in mere hours. There is no way that he was that hungry. He was a healthy, strong, rugged man and a skillful hunter, he could have gotten food. He was the first born son of his father’s estate, the servants would have been obligated to serve him and take care of his needs, all he had to do was demand food. He could have begged anyone for a scrap for food, enough to settle the hunger pangs, while he prepared the meat that in all likelihood he had just brought into the camp from his hunting trip.
Instead Esau gave up the most important thing that he had for something so temporary. Sure he had the meal but No doubt that meal must have left a bad taste in his mouth when he realized how much it had cost him. Sure he must have felt bad and must have been angry with his brother for what had happened to him, but he must’ve known in his heart that he was the one to blame because he traded something so valuable for something so cheap. He must’ve known in his heart that it was his own fault, for whatever reason in that moment, he decided to trade his lifelong, generational blessing and favour for a brief moment of satisfaction. We often want to blame Jacob for Esau’s loss when in reality Esau did not deserve what we had because he chose not to see the true value in it. We wrestle with the same struggle today, and every day.
Don’t be like Esau.
That really sounds strange to us. What do you mean don’t be like the victim in the story?
Don’t be like Esau don’t trade eternal things for temporary moments of comfort or pleasure. You are a child of God and as a child of God you have received the greatest gift imaginable. Jesus Christ shed His blood and gave His life for you. He bought your inheritance for you and paid the way so you could be made right in the eyes of the living God. This was a gift for you from the Father, who sent His Son, because He loves you so much.
What we have in God is eternal. Often we treat the most valuable gift that we have and could ever have, our very salvation, our very relationship with our Heavenly Father through the blood of Jesus Christ our Saviour, like it is cheap. Don’t be like Esau who never saw the value in what he had. Don’t be like Esau who got caught up in the moment and saw his human physical urges as more important to meet then to hold onto the eternal things that were his as a child of his father.
Be like Jacob.
Again this sounds strange. What do you mean? You want us to be like the one who lied and cheated to steal from his own brother? Of course we are not being encouraged to steal, cheat, and lie. We are not being encouraged to take advantage of someone else’s weakness for our own gain. Be like Jacob and understand the true value in the eternal things.
What we have received, when we gave our lives to Jesus Christ, must be the most valuable thing that we could ever possess. We have an inheritance. We have peace of mind, a very rare thing these days. We have received joy, the removal of our guilt and shame, a fresh start, and a new life. Would we trade all that for something so fleeting, so temporary, so carnal, as a moment of pleasure. So many times we jump headfirst into sinful behaviour even though we’ve been there before. We know that the pleasure and satisfaction that we receive in the flesh will only last for a moment. A moment of pleasure that can cost so much. We must see the true value in eternal things and choose not to trade them over truly for temporary moments sinful pleasure. The next time we are tempted to sin let’s pray that God will help us overcome the temptation because we see the price Jesus paid for our inheritance as being worth far more.