Esau’s Regret

Jacob, Esau, and the Lost Art of Deferred Gratification

I recently preached on “The 3 Success Secrets of a Scoundrel,” and you can hear the entire message at The message was based on the life of Jacob, a man who ended up highly favored by God, though he was quite a schemer along the way.

Jacob and his twin brother, Esau, are featured in one of the most intriguing passages in the Bible: “Jacob I have loved; but Esau I have hated” (Malachi 1:2-3). Why would God love the deceiver Jacob in such a way? And what was there about Esau that the Lord hated?

Of course, today’s politically correct view of God is that He couldn’t possibly “hate” anyone. He’s a God of “unconditional love,” isn’t He? That is a deep subject indeed, but it’s not the focus of this article. Instead, I want to examine a central differences between Jacob and his brother Esau: deferred gratification.

You see, Esau was technically the older of the twins, so he had a legal right to a double portion of their father’s inheritance. But, in an impulsive moment, he sold his birthright to his brother Jacob for a bowl of soup (Genesis 25:29-34).

We can learn a lot from Jacob and Esau about the choices we make. Jacob was far from perfect, but he passionately pursued his inheritance and ended up valuing the things God valued. He was willing to persist in wrestling with God all night if that’s what it took to receive the blessing (Genesis 32:24-31).

Esau, in contrast, was only concerned about satisfying his immediate desires and needs. He could care less about the long-term consequences of his choices. Like so many today, he “lived for the moment” and hoped to clean up the mess later.

As a nation, we face this same crossroads. Will we choose the path of Jacob or the path of Esau? When we select our political leaders, the choice should NOT be who will give us the best life in 2013. No, the real issue, if we are wise, must be a long-term perspective: Who will set us on the path to a better country 20 or 30 years from now? What policies will lead to a better life for our children and grandchildren?

Many voters are concluding that they made an impulsive decision four years ago. It felt good at the time, yet now they are feeling regret. Esau felt this way too, and he wasn’t allowed to reverse his downward course (Hebrews 12:14-17).

However, by God’s grace, America gets to choose again. Which candidate and philosophy will pave the way to a better nation decades from now?

The choice is yours. The choice is mine. The choice is our nation’s. The consequences will be profound.