Actions betray what's in the heart.

Genesis 25:24-34 (ESV)

When her days to give birth were completed, behold, there were twins in her womb. The first came out red, all his body like a hairy cloak, so they called his name Esau. Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding Esau's heel, so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.

When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents. Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.) 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. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

Think about what, “Esau despised his birthright” means. Every father teaches his children about their family history, especially when it’s good. Isaac had surely told them about their grandfather Abraham, about why they’re circumcised, about how Abraham’s servant found their mother.

And that’s just the beginning. Their family history makes Alex Haley’s Roots look like a short story. Esau is a prince. He’s the eldest son and, don’t forget, Isaac loved Esau. His birthright isn’t just any old birthright; he’s the heir of the covenant. From birth, Esau has been taught that he’s special. Besides, Jacob’s command, “Sell me your birthright now,” doesn’t even make sense unless Esau’s birthright is a known commodity.

But, Esau doesn’t care. He makes the obviously fatuous claim, “I am about to die.” Give me a break. Isaac inherited all of Abraham’s wealth. No one in that family is going to starve to death.

The cold truth is that Esau doesn’t value his birthright because he doesn’t believe it.

Esau’s real problem was lack of faith. Instant gratification was so much more important to him than religion that he traded his priceless covenant promise for a worthless bowl of stew.

This is how the health and wealth gospel attracts people; they don’t really need to believe. Many modern American Christians are closer to that attitude than they’d like to admit. “I’ll make sacrifices for Christ; just don’t ask me to give up …”

But Christ promised suffering and persecution in this life, not health and wealth. They can happen – they’re not wrong – but Christianity is about something else.

Ask the Lord to restore our focus. We’ve gone soft.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:


Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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