September 1, 1999

"What good is this birthright?"
bluebullGenesis 25:32
___The birthright was an honor of privilege and responsibility passed from one generation to the next.
___The privileges included gaining a disproportionate share of the family estate. The responsibilities included making sure siblings were provided for. The birthright became a way of measuring who was in charge. Jacob was a man who enjoyed taking charge, whether by hook or by crook.
___Jacob grew up in what we would today call a dysfunctional family. Mom loved him
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Baytown

best, and Dad loved his brother, Esau, best.
___The birthright was secured over a dinner especially fittingquestions for a starving, empty-handed hunter. The accompanying blessing was delivered through his mother's manipulation and his father's dulled and uncertain senses.
___As precious a prize as the birthright was, its second-hand possessor found a need to flee with the transcript tucked away in his traveling bag as he fled from the one he had dispossessed.
___How handy was that birthright in Jacob's clutching hands? It earned him the woman of his dreams and her sister, but not in that order.
___Things started looking up when the baby parade commenced and then began looking down again when Heel Grabber's favorite son wasn't the firstborn, either. Underpaid and overworked, the son of ill-gotten privilege and responsibility stole his father-in-law blind and left without saying goodbye (again), only to be caught and confronted by a less-than-huggable father-in-law.
___The birthright did provide Jacob with God's blessing and provision. He became a wealthy man with a large family and many possessions. Jacob also experienced the broken heart of losing both his favorite wife and his favorite son. He knew the grief of fathering undisciplined sons. He experienced alienation from his neighbors in a land promised to him and his descendants.
___He knew the weariness of a difficult sojourn far from home at a time when what he really needed was a rocking chair.
___Jacob experienced reconciliation with the brother who once gladly would have delivered his soul unto death. He enjoyed a tearful reunion with the son he thought was dead. He longed to return to his homeland of promise, but made it only in the sleep of death. Jacob discovered the hard way that birthrights are not about selfish grappling for blessings. Instead, birthrights are given as a means to bless others.
___Jacob blessed his brother, Esau, not because he wanted to, but because he was afraid not to.
___He blessed his sons and grandsons because he learned that birthrights aren't about the delights of receiving, but about the joys of giving.
___Jacob wrestled with God and with men. He almost always prevailed through diverse challenges. But God gave him a permanent reminder that he alone held the upper hand.
___The ultimate Giver of privilege and responsibility wants us to learn what Jacob learned the hard way: Privileges are always accompanied by responsibilities. God's blessings are for passing along, not for hoarding.
___"What good is this birthright?" Esau asked his brother above the growling ache in the pit of his stomach. Perhaps upon reflection, Esau might have considered that he received the better, more peaceful end of the deal.
___Don't be deceived.

Previous Columns: 7/14, 7/21, 7/28, 8/4, 8/11, 8/18, 8/25.


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