Despising Our Birthright

A few days ago I was in Alabama conducting a Personal Evangelism Workshop and was the guest in the home of a dear lady who served me lentils. I never remember eating lentils before, but my mind went back to Genesis 25:29-34 to the story of Esau, who was "a profane person, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright" (Hebrews 12:16). The "morsel of meat" was not "meat" as we know it - - as a pork chop or beefsteak, but was simply "one morsel of food" -- a bit of red pottage (lentils -- Gen. 25:34) for which his sensual soul yearned. I thought they were rather tasteful, but how hungry would a man have to be to sell his birthright for a few bites?

As I thought about that, it occurred to me that a person would not have to be very hungry at all. He would just need to not care quite as much for the privileges he had as a result of his birth as he did for some simple present pleasure, no matter how worthless.

If we were born to Christian parents, we have countless spiritual blessings as our birthright. The reputation and counsel of Godly parents is priceless, yet many prodigal sons waste it and despise their birthright.

The freedom to worship as God directs without fear of reprisal is great enough that men have died to gain it. Yet countless thousands -- even of those who claim membership in the Lord's church -- have despised that birthright, neglecting that precious privilege as if it were merely a hateful task to be disregarded at will.

It is heartbreaking to see hundreds, and realize that there are thousands, of children, living in a country like this, where a store clerk can become president of the United States, or ghetto dweller can become a Ph.D. or President of a giant corporation, who despise their birthright and fritter their time away, playing silly video games, or doing all sorts of other useless things instead of learning something that will make them useful to themselves, society and God. They are despising their birthright for even less than a mess of lentils.

It is even more heartbreaking to think of our spiritual birthrights which we despise -- the privileges we have because we were born into God's family. Though I have meditated on them for over 55 years, they are still mind-boggling. It is my birthright that not only did I get remission of every sin, no matter how disgusting or degrading, but I get the promise of constant cleansing of any other sin -- if I will take it on His terms (1 John 1:7). Then in addition to that, I get the promise of Divine Wisdom to guide me in what is best to do (James 1:5), but even if I act stupid enough to disregard that wisdom as Solomon did, I still have the promise that I will be given strength to overcome ANY temptation (1 Cor. 10:13).

As if that were not sufficient, then Romans 8:28 gives me as my birthright the promise that ALL things will work together for my good, that I can cast ALL my care upon Him, for he cares for me (1 Peter 5:7). But how often, in faithless disdain for the birthright, do we worry, or fail to take advantage of His divine power that has granted us "ALL THINGS THAT PERTAIN TO LIFE AND GODLINESS (2 Peter 1:3).

When I get a small glimpse of what Paul meant in Ephesians 4:20, "Unto him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that worketh in us," I do not so much marvel at Esau who sold his birthright for a mess of pottage, but at so many of us who simply throw it away and neglect using it, for no apparent earthly advantage at all!

T. Pierce Brown

Published in The Old Paths Archive