Sometimes when you’re dealing with a problem, all the sermons you hear, all the books you read and all the television/movies you watch have to do with what you’re dealing with.
Lately, I’ve been assaulted with Jacob and Esau. Specifically, every book I’ve read lately has used the story of Esau selling Jacob his birthright (Genesis 25:29-34). Every source I’ve read it in recently has used this story to warn its readers not to forsake future spiritual blessings for the lure of the present material things.
In fact, this was the first lesson of the quarter for my Sunday school class. The moral? Value what God values.
This week, I read the story in my Community Bible Study readings and commentary. The Hebrews workbook boils it down to this. “Devotion to creature comforts more than to God is a form of godlessness that is rampant among ‘respectable Christians.’ It is widely tolerated and easily disguised. The lesson for us is that we must not let the subtlety of godlessness loosen our allegiance to Jesus Christ. Sensual desires and the lure of material things can dull our appetite for spiritual blessings.”
That’s a pretty powerful message. Last month I read Craig Groeschel’s Soul Detox. He challenged many of my ideas about consumerism and its pervasiveness in my own thinking. His most convicting statement to me was when he said that if you say you’re happy, but that you’d be happier with a little more money in the bank, you’ve fallen into the pit of consumerism. Ouch! That might have stepped on my toes a little bit.
Jesus says that you can not serve two masters. Then, he specifically goes on to tell his followers that they cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:24) Of all the sins he could have mentioned, have you ever stopped to wonder why he specifically called out money?
Our world sends a persistent message of consumerism. If we have more, we are more. Everyone falls into it. One person is more important than another person because of their status, power or wealth. (Why do you think our culture worships celebrities?) Every acquisition leads to “just one more” thing to acquire. We’ve all felt the pull.
That’s not the message of the gospel.
The message of the gospel is to be consumed. Don’t waste your life accumulating things. (Matthew 6:19) You can not serve God and money. Instead, Christ invites you to come and die to yourself in order to be made more like Him.
Even the tendency to put back and save for a rainy day seems suspect in this context. If we can only serve Him with money in the bank, are we really serving Him at all? Doesn’t he promise to take care of our needs? (Matthew 6:26)
One step further…If I only serve Him as He blesses me, and not out of sacrifice, am I really serving Him? Isn’t that the very same question that Satan asks about Job?
Esau is not portrayed as an evil person in the Bible. He’s merely portrayed as careless with God’s blessings. Don’t be careless with His blessings. Value what he values. Store your treasures in heaven and not in the here-and-now.