What are You Really Trading?
If you've joined us for the Freedom Tastes Better Challenge, by now, I'm sure you have run into those days when you just want to throw in the towel and quit this challenge. You've cursed my name as you stood in front of the refrigerator staring at the cheese drawer. You've had a moment at the pantry thinking you might surely die if you didn't have that piece of chocolate.
It's just one little piece.
That one little piece can be so much trouble.
I'm reminded of a story in Genesis 25 where a certain older brother didn't really think through what he traded for his one little piece.
In Genesis 25:24-34 we meet the first set of twins recorded in the Bible--Jacob and Esau. These boys fought in the womb and never quit. They were polar opposites. Esau was red and hairy, a skillful hunter who had won the favor of his father, Isaac. Jacob was quiet, a homebody whose momma doted on him. These two were not the best of friends.
One day after hunting, Esau returned from the open country absolutely famished. Jacob was cooking some lentil stew--that's right, bean soup. Esau begged him for a bowl.
Jacob, being the sly, conniving brother he was, told Esau, "First sell me your birthright" (Gen. 25:31).
Now, in the Israelite culture, a birthright was a big deal. It was bestowed on the firstborn son within a family. When the father had multiple wives, the birthright belonged to his actual firstborn son, not the son of a favored wife.
The son who held the birthright held the power in the family. The birthright not only meant family leadership, but also a double inheritance compared to the other sons. This was beyond a blessing.
That's why Esau's response stuns me. He says to Jacob, "Look, I am about to die. What good is the birthright to me?" (Gen. 25:32).
Esau wasn't really going to die if he didn't eat the stew.
He made a snap decision based on the heat of the moment. He only allowed his feelings of hunger--his craving for stew--to overtake him. If he had thought about what he was trading for one second, coupled with the fact that he had more than likely just brought in some new game that could be prepped and cooked (after all, he was a skillful hunter), I doubt he would have ever made the trade.
What's even more interesting is what the end of the chapter tells us. It says,
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 (Gen. 25:34).
Esau caved in the moment and grew to despise what he lost.
He traded his identity for a bowl of beans.
During my journey with food, I've spent some time changing my thinking--slowing down in the midst of the moments when I thought I might die if I didn't have ______. I began to think ALL the way through the choice I was about to make. I would ask myself, "What are you really trading for it?"
The answer would always be less than what I would really get in return. I would trade the empowerment of self-control for guilt; obedience for a second of a pleasure on my tongue that would fade almost as soon as it began.
While choosing food over obedience won't strip me of my inheritance in Christ, it does dull my ability to hear His voice at times. Any disobedience will do that. I've spent my fair share of time choosing disobedience. I just don't want to live that way anymore.
So, the next time you want to cave into a craving, think about what you're really trading for it. In the end, Jesus isn't worth trading. Ever.
This post is an excerpt from the Freedom Tastes Better 31-day Challenge. You can subscribe to receive these devotionals and other encouraging material by clicking here and scrolling to the bottom of the page. Make sure to check the Freedom Tastes Better box. You can read about Laura's journey with food here.