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

No comments:

Post a Comment