The One Thing Esau Did Right - A Short Bible Study

This short Bible study discusses the way an unlikely Bible character returned good for evil.

Before doing this study, please read the one-minute introduction: One Thing Esau Did Right. It explains that even though Esau's life was not a good example, he did show grace and forgiveness toward Jacob later in life.

Have you ever had a family member who deceived you and/or mistreated you? 

How can the following Scriptures help you deal with difficult relationships?  

Philippians 4:12-13: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

This short Bible study discusses the way an unlikely Bible character returned good for evil.
While this passage does not directly address relationships, Paul wrote Philippians while he was in prison, and during that time, some professing Christians were trying to stir up trouble for him (Philippians 1:15-21). In Philippians 4:12-13, he is speaking specifically about being content when his basic needs are not met, but the principle applies in all areas of our lives.

When people mistreat us, we should seek our contentment in the Lord, knowing He is able to use bad situations for our good (Romans 8:28).

Romans 12:17-21: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” 

Obviously, we cannot reconcile with anyone who is unwilling, but it's important that we learn to be content and forgiving. Perhaps this is one of the hardest aspects of our faith in Christ—to return good for evil, to do our best when others are doing their worst, to love when others hate. 

I think you'll find this one-minute devotion helpful: Didn't Want to Do It, but Did It Anyway

Joseph is our perfect example. I encourage you to read this collection of 1-Minute Devotions about Joseph for more insights. 

Copyright 2014, Gail Burton Purath,, edited and updated in 2023

Bite Size Bible Study

Esau Sought Instant Gratification

A short Bible study about Esau and the damage of instant gratification.

As an introduction to this study, read the one-minute devotion
Living in the Moment Can Make a Mess of Your Life.

It explains how Esau lacked self-control and demanded instant gratification, giving up his inheritance for a bowl of stew. He serves as a “good bad example” for us.

Genesis 25:29-34:  “Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30 He said to Jacob, ‘Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!’ (That is why he was also called Edom.) 31 Jacob replied, ‘First sell me your birthright.’ 32 ‘Look, I am about to die,’ Esau said. ‘What good is the birthright to me?’ 33 But Jacob said, ‘Swear to me first.’ So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.

As the oldest son, Esau had the right to a double-portion inheritance (Deuteronomy 21:17), but he was “living in the moment” so he gave it up for a single meal, and he lived to regret it.

Hebrews 12:16-17: “See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. 17 Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.”

Esau lived to regret his decision but was unable to reverse it. “Living in the moment” leads to bondage, loss, and regret. Self-control, delayed gratification, and patience lead to freedom. Let's choose freedom!

1. Patience and self-control are fruits of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23:  “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”

Patience: “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.” Synonyms: forbearance, tolerance, restraint, self-restraint 

Self-control: the ability to control oneself, in particular one's emotions and desires or the expression of them in one's behavior, especially in difficult situations." Synonyms: self-discipline, restraint, self-possession, self-command, willpower, composure 

Obviously, there is some overlap, but patience is typically acceptance of situations we can't control and self-control is managing emotions and actions under our control. Patience may seem more passive and self-control more active, but patience still involves diligent management of thoughts and perspective. 

Esau had neither patience nor self-control when he gave up his birthright for a bowl of stew.

2. We need to do our part to develop godly qualities.

God changes our hearts as we yield ourselves to His will, “putting off” our old sinful nature and 
putting on our new nature in Christ. Ephesians 4:17-32 and Philippians 2:12-13 speak about our obligation. For more insights, see the one-minute devotion Our Part and God's Part

3. Why is the verb "clothed" a fitting analogy?

Colossians 3:12: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” 

I love this analogy of clothing ourselves in these qualities. For more insights, read the one-minute devotion Wrap Yourself in These Things Like a Warm Coat on a Cold Day.

Copyright 2014, Gail Burton Purath,, updated in 2024

A short Bible study about Esau and the damage of instant gratification.

Bite Size Bible Study

What a Tangled Web Jacob Created

This short Bible study explains some important warnings in the life of Jacob.

Before doing this Bible study, please read the one-minute introduction Reaping, Sowing & Tangled Webs
It highlights the way Jacob deceived his father and was later deceived by Laban (Genesis 27Genesis 29:16-27). And it shows that sometimes God's perfect justice is evident on earth (Galatians 6:7-8). 

1. Below is the prophecy God gave Rebekah about her twin sons:

Genesis 25:21-23: Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the LORD. 23 The LORD said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”

After the boys were born, Rebekah favored Jacob and Isaac favored Esau (Genesis 25:19-34). Favoritism almost always leads to problems. This was certainly true in the story of Joseph.  

This short Bible study explains some important warnings in the life of Jacob.
2. Consider the attitudes of each member of the family:

Genesis 27:6-13: Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau, 7 ‘Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the LORD before I die.’ 8 Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: 9 Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it. 10 Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies.” 11 Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “But my brother Esau is a hairy man while I have smooth skin. 12 What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing.” 13 His mother said to him, “My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them for me.”

Favoritism usually leads to acts of jealousy and injustice, but Rebekah also suffered from a lack of faith. Perhaps she was tired of waiting for God to make Jacob greater than his brother. Or perhaps she was worried that Isaac's blessings on Esau would negate God's prophecy. Whatever her reasons, she showed a lack of faith and a lack of integrity.

Jacob had no conscience about lying to his father but feared getting caught. This is often the case with deceivers (note especially verses 11-12). 

In contrast, read Genesis 39:6-10 and notice Joseph's reasons for not sinning with Potiphar's wife. Joseph speaks of violating Potiphar's trust and sinning against God. And that's why Joseph turned from sin.

Regarding verse 13: Rebekah did have "the curse" fall on her in the sense that her plan ended up causing Jacob to flee so she never saw her favorite son again. And she went down in history as a deceptive, domineering mother who showed disrespect to her blind husband (Genesis 27:41-46).

copyright, 2014, Gail Burton Purath,, edited and updated in 2023