In a sermon my pastor preached recently, he pointed out how that as Christians, we sometimes have the tendency to categorize sin. Like there’s a category of really bad ones like murder, adultery, or homosexuality and then there’s the other sins that are really just minor ones like gossiping, telling little white lies or fudging just a bit on your taxes. I guess we think that such small little indiscretions can’t really be all that harmful to us or someone else. I mean, gosh all I did was tell my coworker about what I heard about another coworker, right? I mean what harm is there is having a secret to share with someone else, right? Until that secret turns ugly after it’s been passed from one ear to another and it’s been embellished to make it sound even juicier and then the next thing you know someone’s reputation gets tarnished. But then, well you know it’s still really not my fault for passing gossip because I mean I did tell the person I told not to tell anyone else so really it’s their fault, right? It’s amazing how we can pass that buck like it’s a hot potato. And what’s also amazing is how we stand in judgement of someone else’s sin but chose to not acknowledge our own because frankly we think that somehow our sins are not that bad. It’s that whole plank in the eye thing (Matthew 7:5).
In Brother Yun’s book “Living Water,” he wrote a chapter called “Lessons from Esau”. Remember Esau? He was Jacob’s twin brother and their father, Isaac’s favorite. Esau was the firstborn and therefore was the rightful heir to everything Isaac had and the birthright of the firstborn was a pretty big deal in ancient times. Yet, in Genesis 25 we find where Esau gave up his inheritance for some lentil stew. He’d been out hunting all day and so by the time he got back home, he was famished. Jacob had cooked a lentil stew and apparently the delicious smell wafting by Esau’s nose was more than his hungry tummy could take and he begged Jacob for a bowl. Jacob agreed but only if Esau would first swear to sell his birthright to his brother. Evidentially his insatiable hunger won out over his good sense, and Esau ended up trading away his inheritance to Jacob for a bowl of stew. Now from the outside looking in, it would seem that what Esau did was about the stupidest thing ever and in retrospect, he probably thought the same thing too. It’s easy for us to look at Esau and think, “well now, I would never have traded my entire inheritance for a bowl of beans…I mean seriously, how idiotic and careless can one man be?” Well here’s what Brother Yun had to say about it:
“Before you rush to judgement on how stupid and disrespectful Esau was to despise his birthright, consider all those times you have disobeyed the Lord. Tragically, there are thousands of men and women of God today – some of whom once had powerful ministries that operated in the anointing and favor of God – who have traded in their inheritance for a bowl of stew. To Esau, the bowl of stew represented something that could meet the immediate needs of his flesh. The Bible says he was ‘famished.’ Many others have shipwrecked their faith and destroyed their witness for the Lord by giving in to their fleshly needs through sexual impurity, mishandling of finances and a host of other sins. There may be a bowl of stew in your life as well.”
Well now, when you put it like that…gosh.
I starting looking back over my own life at the bowls of stew I put above my relationship with God. Things with absolutely no eternal value and serving no purpose other than my gaining an immediate satisfaction for a fleshly desire. I sit in judgement of the lifestyle of others all the while slurping down a heaping helping of gluttony or gossip. And then later, that stew sits in my stomach like a rock as I realize the damage it causes to my witness or the separation it brings between me and my Heavenly Father. I am disgusted with myself at how I can let such meaningless things take precedence over God. But I’ve recently come to a conclusion about myself that may very well be true of you also. If I am keeping myself filled up on the Bread of Life, I am a lot less likely to succumb to the savory smell of worldly stew. As long as I feed on the Word of God continuously, I won’t find myself in a place of being famished and thereby making rash decisions and choices that satisfy my flesh but quench His Spirit. And if I am tightly knit to my Father, then the chances are better that I will be able to show grace and love to someone else whose face is buried in their own bowl of stew. Hopefully, I will be more likely to love them, pray for them and offer them encouragement and a helping hand than I will be to stand in judgement of them.
Here’s one other interesting little tidbit…lentils are annual plants. An annual plant usually germinates, flowers, and dies in a year or season. Did you catch that? They aren’t permanent but in fact only last for a season. In other words, when the world presents you with that bowl of lentils that you know will bring satisfaction to your flesh (albeit temporary) then just persevere, Beloved. Keep filling up on God’s word and keep seeking Him for strength to overcome. And if you wait it out long enough, you will find that tempting thing that threatens to put a gap between you and the All-Sufficient One is temporary…only a single season…and the power you have in Christ Jesus is stronger than any trial or temptation we will face. Just hang on…stick it out…don’t give up…don’t give in. The incredible inheritance your Father in heaven has for you is soooo going to be worth it!
Then the King will say to those on his right,
“Come, you who are blessed by my Father;
take your inheritance,
The kingdom prepared for you
since the creation of the world.”