Sent:  June 25, 2002

Subject:  The World’s Most Expensive Meal

Good Morning Ethan & Emily:

Usually one of the first things we check on a restaurant menu is the price of the various entrees.  This morning I would like you to consider the most expensive meal ever paid by a human being!  There were no menus and the atmosphere was not fancy, but Esau paid the highest price ever paid, and he did so for a bowl of red stew!

Here are the details:  Esau and Jacob were twin sons of Isaac, the son of Abraham.  Esau was born first, so in the natural course of things and according to the traditions of the time, he was entitled to special rights and privileges as the firstborn.  This special honor was called the birthright.  It usually included a double portion of the family inheritance and the privilege of becoming the family leader or patriarch.  One day Esau came home exhausted and hungry from a hunting trip.  He saw that his brother had prepared red stew, and in utter disregard for his position of privilege and blessing, he agreed to trade his birthright for a bowl of this stew. (Read the entire sordid story in Genesis 25:19-34)

You might come to Esau’s defense by saying that it was his wily and cunning brother who presented this proposition and that he should have willingly offered the stew in a gesture of kindness.  But the final responsibility rests squarely with Esau, and in a moment of physical desire, he choose pleasure over duty, responsibility, and spiritual blessing.  Evidently his birthright didn’t really mean that much to him in the first place, as he revealed by his actions that his physical interests had a higher priority than his spiritual responsibilities.  Later he would regret his decision, but for the moment, the stew was what he wanted…and it was the stew he got at a price that changed the destinies of both men.

How stupid…how very stupid Esau was, you might say!  But people are still doing this today and trading some of their most valuable possessions for things of little or no value.  For a moment of passion, many a young person has traded their virginity and honor for counterfeit love or made other decisions that bring consequences that are often fatal or that have other tragic consequences.  Honest businessmen have “cut corners” or yielded to dishonesty as they have traded their reputations and careers in a moment of temptation for financial gain.  How tragic that sometimes we allow the lure of short-term satisfaction to obscure long-range consequences.

None of us are immune.  The desire for material gain and success as well as physical pleasure, satisfaction, and security are strong enticements that are not wrong in themselves.  But when gained at the expense of honesty and virtue or if done deliberately and knowingly out of God’s will become priceless jewels cast to swine.  Jesus made this very clear as He spoke to His disciples:  “Don’t give what is holy to unholy people.  Don’t give pearls to swine!  They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you” (Matt. 7:6)

The most difficult part of resisting temptation is in those early pressure-filled moments when the allure of immediate gratification or gain can seem so attractive that it obscures our awareness of the long-range consequences.

Next time you are tempted to do something that you know is not right and does not honor God, think of Isaac and his bowl of red stew.  Resolve that you will not pay the same high price he paid for “meat and sauce.”  Say “no” to your impulses, and in so doing you will take your life “dinner” choice from basic stew prepared in the back alleys of life to “prime rib” and “tenderloin” prepared by Heaven’s best chefs…offered free of charge as you enjoy the blessings God provides as we honor Him by our obedience.

Sent with all my love,