Money Lessons from the Story of Esau

As I was reading my Devotional Bible, I came across the story of Esau and Jacob. This isn’t the first time I’ve read about them in the Bible, but this is the first time that something in their story stood out to me. If you haven’t read your Bible for a long time, I strongly suggest that you find the time to read it again. You’ll be amazed at the life lessons you can pick up along the way, but I digress.

To those who are not familiar with the characters I am about to mention, allow me to give you a bit of a backstory. I’m pretty sure we all know who Abraham is right? Father of all nations? Now Abraham had a son and his name was Isaac; the son God asked him to sacrifice on the altar as a test of his faith, but don’t worry, God stopped Abraham when He saw that Abraham was willing to obey without any hesitation. Many years later, Isaac too had two sons, Esau and Jacob.

Jacob and Esau1

Esau was a man of the field. A hunter and gatherer. Rugged. Jacob on the other hand was the opposite. He was the more domesticated one of the two. One day, Esau came home from one of his hunting trips; parched, famished and exhausted. Smelling the stew that Jacob made, Esau begged for some of the stew lest he “die of hunger”. Jacob however, asked Esau and made him swear to sell him his birthright in exchange for the stew. So Esau swore and sold his birthright to Jacob.

Now let’s put this into context. During those times, the birthright of the eldest son meant that he is next in line to succeed his father as leader of the family and  inherit the judicial authority of his father, as well as getting a significant part of the inheritance. So when Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for the stew, he was in effect giving away his future.

So how does this relate to us in modern times?

Esau, out of the hunger and thirst that he felt willingly tossed away his future for some stew and bread without much thought. A lot of us at some point felt this hunger, this need, and like Esau, we traded something so important for us in exchange for something to fill that hunger. This hunger, this urge takes many forms. It can be a hunger for some nice food, for electronic gadgets, some expensive clothes, even certain experiences like the latest trend in holidays or vacations; and in the process we end up breaking the bank and going deep in debt. Many of us do this, a lot! Whenever we see something we really want we tend to not think things thoroughly and just give in to that nagging “need to have it”. We jump hastily into decisions without much thought only to reap the consequences later.

A lot of us, myself included have experienced this kind of “hunger” that we need to satisfy, immediately! Instead of practicing delayed gratification we give in to our “hunger”, our urges and wants, and end up mindlessly throwing away our financial security for something that’s fleeting and temporary. We tend to choose short term pleasures in exchange for long term security. A lot of OFWs in different parts of the world, and employed people back home have committed this grievous financial blunder of not choosing to delay gratification for the sake of enjoyment, which is why many Filipinos are not financially prepared for retirement and end up relying on their children to take care of them when they are no longer able to generate income.

Just as Esau threw away his birthright, his lion’s share of the inheritance and his future, a lot of us also throw away our financial security and future for immediate gratification.  In this day and age of instant and quick fixes many people find it hard to be still and wait for the right time. For them, NOW is always the right time. YOLO! You Only Live Once. Here’s the thing we all need to realize though, we only live once, yes that is correct; and that is exactly why we need to make sure we do it right. We all need to be more mindful of our decisions. Before making that purchase or swiping your card, think first. Think hard. Do you really need this now, or can it wait? Can I really afford this now, or am I blowing up the budget?

Photo by Lukas Hartmann from Pexels

We are free to make our choices, but we do not have the freedom to choose the consequences.

Photo Credits:
Main Image
Jill Kemp and Richard Gunther

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