The Esau Mentality
Have you ever given up something or given up a good opportunity which has long term benefits in exchange to satisfy yourself with something that gives you immediate but temporary gratification?
Do you usually make decisions mostly according to your immediate impulse?
Would you exchange an intangible opportunity with long term benefits for something which will only give you short term satisfaction?
Genesis 25:29-34 NKJV
Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary. And Esau said to Jacob, “Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary.” Therefore his name was called Edom.*
But Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day.”
And Esau said, “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?”
Then Jacob said, “Swear to me as of this day.”
So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.
Esau was a man who seemed to not care much about the long term effects of his actions. He was a man who seemed only concerned with satisfying his immediate needs; he was a man whose mind and whose decisions were governed by obtaining immediate and short-term gratification to the extent that he would give up anything of long term value in order to satisfy a temporary and self-gratifying need.
Such was Esau’s mentality that one point in his life, he exchanged his birthright with his younger brother Jacob for a bowl of stew.
A birthright was a special honour given to the firstborn son. It included a double portion of the family inheritance along with the honour of one day becoming the family’s leader. The oldest son could sell his birthright or give it away if he chose to, but in doing so he would lose both material goods, and his leadership position.
Therefore by trading his birthright for a bowl of stew, Esau showed complete disregard for the spiritual and material blessings that would have come his way if he had kept his birthright. This is why the scripture says that Esau “despised” his birthright (Genesis 25:34).
When Esau traded the lasting benefits of his birthright for the immediate but temporary pleasure of food, he acted according to his feelings; he was governed by impulse rather than by wisdom; he was tempted to satisfy his immediate desires without considering the long range consequences of his actions and he was a slave to the flesh.
There are many people who are like Esau; who fall into the same temptations and who think only about acquiring short term pleasure rather than long term fulfillment.
The Esau mentality was also such that he exaggerated the depth of his need. When Esau was hungry and in need of Jacob’s food, Esau’s perception of his problem/hunger was distorted and exaggerated. He told Jacob that he was about to die because of his hunger (Genesis 25:32). Therefore the pressure of the moment grossly distorted his perspective in regards to his situation.
Overcoming the Esau Mentality
To overcome the Esau mentality, one must begin the process of changing their attitude and perspective so that they view life and circumstances through the eyes of God and not through a distorted view that is based merely on fleshly desire; on impulse, emotion or the need for immediate gratification.
This involves applying the following knowledge in your life:
- Lining your own thoughts with God’s thoughts; think like God (Isaiah 55:6-9)
- You must realize and understand that immediate gratification is usually temporary but there are blessings in life that exist that are long term (Matthew 6:19-21)
- Temptation can only be overcome by having knowledge of God’s scriptures and choosing to apply God’s word in your daily life and situation. Jesus overcame temptation by quoting scripture every time that he was tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1-11)
- For any temptation that comes your way, God has provided a way of escape. So don’t allow temptation to overpower you (1 Corinthians 10:13)