My test for true priorities is asking myself about delayed gratification. If I really want something, or think it is valuable, am I willing to wait for it? If God promises to do something that I want, can I wait for Him to do it, or do I try to ‘help’ make it happen?
Before the birth of her twin sons God told Rebekah, Isaac’s wife, that the older twin would serve the younger. Rebekah later favored the younger twin. Was it because she believe the promise, or was this preference due to the boy being less of a ‘jock’ than his outdoorsy brother, and more of a stay-at-home?
Another part of the story tells how Esau, the older, sold his birthright—his right to inherit the covenant God made with Abraham—to his younger brother Jacob. He had the right to inherit most of his father’s property and also any intangible possessions, such as title or position, but he came in from the fields hungry and traded it to Jacob for a bowl of stew.
Years later Jacob and his mother schemed to steal Esau’s blessing, through which the birthright would be transmitted anyway. Had she forgotten God’s promise? This scheme antagonized Esau to murderous thoughts, forcing Jacob to flee. However, he fled to Bethel, had his first direct personal experience with the God of the covenant, and committed himself to serve the Lord.
This story is sad in many ways, yet filled with instruction. The lesson that caught my attention today is the importance of values and being willing to wait for what I want. Esau couldn’t do it. His hunger was more important than the birthright. On a much smaller scale, I want to lose a few pounds but the desire for chocolate cake or a piece of peach pie with ice cream can mess up my plan to eat less sweets. What is more important? Am I willing to wait for it, even go hungry? Actually, I don’t need to go hungry; I could eat an apple or have a salad!
Rebekah had a problem with waiting also. God told her that Jacob would wind up usurping his brother. Did she really need to use deception to ‘help’ God accomplish what He said would happen?
Before the twins were born, the Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger.” (Genesis 25:23)
But later, as Isaac asked Jacob to hunt for game and prepare him a meal, Rebekah was listening. When Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it, Rebekah said to Jacob, “I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, ‘Bring me game and prepare for me delicious food, that I may eat it and bless you before the Lord before I die.’ Now therefore, my son, obey my voice as I command you. Go to the flock and bring me two good young goats, so that I may prepare from them delicious food for your father, such as he loves. And you shall bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.” (Genesis 27:5-10)
She could not let God fulfill His promise without ‘helping’ Him do it!
When God tells me His plan, the principle of delayed gratification is important. I might want that plan to happen NOW, but God’s timing is always right. Waiting on Him is vital lest I mess up what He intends to be perfect.
Values also are part of this, for if I go ahead of God, then I value my ideas and methods more than His. This is a no-brainer: nothing could be more ridiculous!