Don’t Sell Your Birthright Like Esau

See to it that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. ~ Hebrews 12:16

“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 25:33-34

What is a birthright? According to WordNet online dictionary, it is “a right or privilege that you are entitled to at birth”, or “an inheritance coming by right of birth”. Did you know God gives each of us a birthright as His children? Did you know that we may not be aware of our birthright from Him, or, if we understand our birthright, we can also lose it? This is described in the story of Jacob and Esau.

Jacob stole Esau’s birthright by offering him food when he was extremely hungry. Although Jacob acted as a manipulator and deceiver, his brother didn’t seem all that concerned with his inheritance in the present. He wanted his hunger for food met, now! He couldn’t see past his immediate desires, although legitimate. He tried to get them met in the wrong way. And he sold the only thing of true value in his life away for a bowl of stew. How angry at himself he must’ve been once his hunger had been satisfied!

When we are born into the kingdom of God by accepting Christ into our lives, we are born not only into new life through salvation, but we also carry a new birthright. Like free education is a right to anyone born in America, when we are born again, a new creation in Christ, we have rights that people who do not know Him do not have. Peace, joy, hope, and spiritual gifts are in addition to the gift of eternal salvation are all part of this birthright. Our very purpose for existence is also our birthright. God gave that to us before we were born. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…” (Jeremiah 1:5) However, it is easy to “miss” our birthright by deception, or to exchange it for a life of self-gratification.

It says in Genesis 25:34 Esau “despised” his birthright.  How many of us “despise” doing the things that Christ would have us do? Whether it’s fear, or pride, or past hurts and rejections, or not feeling good enough – none of those reasons are good enough for us to miss the inheritance that God has in store for us.

Don’t let deception keep you from your birthright of who you are in Christ – from all the things that God has planned for you to bless you, give you a purpose, and to use you mightily for His kingdom.

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** By Charis Brown at Today God is First / Photo by Shantanu Pal at Pexels

Lust Verses Love A Biblical Perspective

Most people know the difference between lust and love so what are they? What does the Bible define as love and as lust?

A Definition of Lust

Lust is an emotion or feeling of intense desire in the body and it can take nearly any form such as the lust for knowledge, the lust for sex or the lust for power. It is an overwhelming self-absorbed desire or craving for an object, person, or experience that might be good but in most cases, is not. For example, a man or a woman can lust after their spouse and since they are legally married, there is no sin in this, however lusting after someone else’s spouse or someone who’s not married is sin, so clearly, lust and love aren’t the same at all and in many ways, they are actually opposites of one another, for example we can lust after riches, for drugs, for alcohol, and for any number of things that are detrimental to our wellbeing.

A Definition of Love

The way the world defines love and the way that God defines love are not even close to the same thing. As far as the world sees, love is a strong and warm affection that someone has for another or others or for something. It could be like that of a parent for a child or a spouse for their mate or it could be a love for reading, eating, drugs, alcohol, or even shopping. Some of these are good and well, but others can lead to ruin. Love can certainly be a strong feeling of affection and concern toward another person, as that arising from a kinship or close friendship, which I have for my own spouse and children and grandchildren and even for my friends but from the biblical standpoint, love and lust are no co-equals since one can be good, while the other can lead to harm.

But-I-say-to-you-that

A Biblical Definition of Lust

I like what C.S. Lewis wrote many years ago. He wrote “If you look upon ham and eggs and lust, you have already committed breakfast in your heart.” This is a very good, biblical definition of lust in the heart. If you covet something or someone, that is lusting in the heart. Exodus 20:17 lists the tenth commandment as “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor” so lust is not just about looking at someone of the opposite sex, or for some, looking at someone with lust of the same sex, it is coveting what you don’t have. It is a passionate desire to have what someone else has.

What Lust Can Lead To

David let his lust carry him away as “One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful” (2nd Sam 11:2) and so he lusted after her in his heart. This led to adultery and later, to the murder of Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah. This is why James wrote that “after desire (or lust) has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (1:15). The proverbs say “Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes” (6:25). Jesus said that it was “out of the heart come evil thoughts–murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matt 15:19). Solomon understood this connection, writing that as a man “thinks within himself, so he is” (23:7a). You can commit adultery without ever committing the physical act. Jesus said that “that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt 5:28) and of course the same thing applies to women.

A Biblical Definition of Love

There are so many places that define love in the Bible that it will be hard to select only a few. Paul writes that “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1st Cor 13:4-7). The love of God is not about feelings or words but “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). Love is a verb; it is what you do more than what you say or what you think. We know that Jesus did not feel like taking on all of the sins of humanity, but His great love for us on the cross proved what the love of God is like. He died for us while we were still wicked sinners and His enemies (Rom 5:8, 10).

Conclusion

The differences between love and lust are that we don’t covet what we don’t have. We shouldn’t covet (lust after) our neighbor’s spouse or their goods (Ex 20:17). Love, on the other hand, “does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom 13:10) and this means “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 19:19) but above all “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt 22:37). The difference for believers is that we are told “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44). The greatest display of love was not what Jesus felt or what God feels but it was revealed at Calvary. Jesus said “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13) and that’s just what He did. Lust harms, love sacrifices.

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**By Jack Wellman at what Christians wat to know / Photo by Mark Stebnicki at Pexels

Prisoner of His Appetite

During the fourteenth century Raynald III, was a duke in what is now Belgium. As the result of a violent quarrel, Raynald’s younger brother Edward successfully revolted against him. When Edward captured Raynald he built a room around him featuring windows and a door and promised him that the day he left the room his title and property would be returned to him.

This would not have been difficult for most people since the room had several windows and a door of near-normal size, and none was locked or barred. The problem was Raynald’s size, he was seriously overweight.

In order to regain his freedom, Raynald needed to lose weight. But Edward knew his older brother, and each day he sent a variety of delicious foods. Instead of dieting his way out of prison, Raynald grew fatter.

Anytime someone accused Duke Edward of treating Raynald cruelly he said: “My brother is not a prisoner. He may leave when he so wills.”

Raynald stayed in that room for ten years and wasn’t released until after Edward died in battle. By then his health was so ruined he died within a year… He was a prisoner of his own appetite.

Just as Raynald was enslaved by his appetite, sin will enslave all those who yield to it. What enslaves you? The things you are struggling with today could be avoided if you stopped giving in to them. Pray and ask the Lord to help you be an overcomer in areas that you’re struggling with. Fasting is a great way to discipline one self and exercise self control, in buffeting the body.

1 John 2:16 ~ For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.

Hebrews 12:1~ Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

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** The three Edwards by Thomas B Costain / Picture by Jimmy Chan at Pexels

Modern Day Idols

Idol Worship Today

We tend to think of idolatry as a sin of the past or an eastern mysticism thing. We certainly don’t have idols in western culture, right? Actually, idolatry is surprisingly modern and very prevalent in our culture. Part of the reason we don’t think about idol worship today is because our definition of idolatry is off. We think idolatry is confined to bowing down to a golden statue or praying to a wooden trinket. Since we don’t do those things, we assume we don’t have idols.

But we do have modern day idols. Lots of them. They look different than the idols of the past, but we still practice idolatry today.

Before we look at idol worship today, we need to get a better definition of what an idol is. What exactly is idol worship?

What Is Idolatry? 

An idol is when something or someone becomes more important to us than God. Even good things can become idols when we make them the ultimate things in our lives. Anything, or anyone, can become an idol if we place the value for that thing/person above our value for God.

In ancient times that would have looked like bowing down to worship a golden statue. Modern-day idols look different- more like getting our identity from our job or staring at our technology all day. Anything that becomes more important to us than God becomes an idol; and we all have them.

Tim Keller, in his book Counterfeit Gods says, “An idol is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, and anything that you seek to give you what only God can give.

Idolatry is alive and well today, and we are all prone to have idols in our lives. So what does the Bible say about these modern day idols?

Before you read this list, hear me on this: I’m not saying we should rid ourselves of the things on this list. For many of the things, that would be impossible. Rather, we need to evaluate our lives to make sure they are in the right order and none of these things have become more important than God to us.

With that in mind, here are 6 modern day idols we still worship.

1. Our Identity

It’s easy to place our identity in something or someone other than God. Whether it be our social media following, our position at work, our abilities/skills, or the achievements we are after, many have their identity wrapped up in the wrong thing.

Not only is this an idol, but it’s also a tough way to live. If your identity is in your work, your skills, your looks, or anything else, you will constantly feel like you don’t measure up.  They are harsh masters. But when our identity is secured in God, we can live in freedom. While we will still fall short, God’s love will never fail us.

For some, their identity has become an idol. They have placed more value on who they are, rather than in God.

2. Money/Consumerism 

It doesn’t matter if you have money or are broke. The pursuit of money and the acquisition of things is an idol for many in our culture. Many people trust their money more than they trust God.

Hear me on this. Money is not bad. Money is a tool. And like any tool, you have to use it correctly; otherwise, it can cause much damage. Money isn’t the problem, it’s how we use and view it that can become a problem. 

Many have placed their hopes and dreams in money. They trust it to provide for them, care for them, and protect them. The problem is, it can’t live up to what we are trying to get from it.

Money has become the ultimate thing for many of us. If the motivating factor in your life is money and not God, then that’s an idol. 

3. Entertainment

We are obsessed with being entertained. And it comes in many forms- from Netflix to vacations and video games to podcasts. We love entertainment in all forms. 

Again, as with the other modern day idols, it’s not that entertainment is bad. It can be a good thing. But when our lives become all about the search for entertainment and chase of the best experiences we can find, then it’s become an idol. It’s become more important than God. 

I would argue that entertainment is good and a gift from God, but we should worship the giver not the gift.

4. Sex

We are obsessed with sex in our culture. It is everywhere. It might be the only thing we think about more than money. We have taken a gift from God and made it into the god of our lives. And for many, their lives are controlled by sex. 

To even question the sexual ethic in our society will bring a slew of accusations, showing how tied to our idol we actually are.  Our sexual identity, sexual practices, and sex lives are sacred to us. 

Part of the Babylonian church instead of portraying sex as a good gift from God, in recent history, has heaped guilt and shame upon it. You could argue this is one of the factors that brought the over-exaggeration of sex. But regardless of how we got here, for many today, sex is an idol.  We value it more than we do God. 

6. COMFORT

There is an endless list of products promising to simplify and add comfort to your life. We have made our lives much easier and much more comfortable than at any other time in history. Tasks that used to take all day can be done in minutes. Many menial tasks are now automated. While that’s a good thing, our pursuit in life should not be comfort alone.

Jesus tells a very different narrative for his followers. He says that his followers will face trials, persecution, and difficulty. While comfort isn’t bad, it can become damaging when it becomes the main pursuit in life. When comfort is an idol, we will struggle when God calls us to something difficult.

6. Our Phones 

Smart phone addiction is increasingly becoming a worrying trend. This is especially true for Gen Z and Millennial generations, but it’s certainly not confined to them. For many, they simply cannot live without their phones (or online presence). This is quickly becoming an idol for many.

The problem isn’t our phones or social media or any form of technology. It’s the value we place on it that makes it a problem. When our lives revolve around how many likes we get, what our following looks like, or if we can’t sit in silence for 5 minutes without refreshing our newsfeed, we might have an idol. Anything that takes the place of God in our life, anything that becomes more important than him, is an idol.

How To Know If You Have A Modern Day Idol

Again, let me reiterate. This isn’t a list of things to avoid or a list we should use to beat ourselves down or ammo to shoot at others. This is a list of things that can take the place of God in our lives. When a good thing becomes an ultimate thing, ultimately it becomes a destructive thing in our lives. That’s idolatry.

What we should do with this list is use it to prayerfully evaluate our lives to make sure nothing has become more important to us than God. 

So how do we know if something has become an idol? Here are 4 questions to ask yourself to help you identify idols in your life:

Where Do I Spend My Time?
Where Do I Spend My Money? 
Where Do I Get My Joy? 
What’s Always On My Mind? 

Actually think about those questions. They will lead you to what either is an idol or what you might be tempted to make an idol. 

Idol worship today might look different, but it still exists. We shouldn’t let anything, even a good thing, take the place of God in our life. 

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By Jeffrey Curtis Poor at Rethink Now / Photo by Tom Fisk at pexels