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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Esau Flunked the Marshmallow Test

Esau, Marshmallow test, Genesis 25, self-control
For insights for last week's study, scroll to the bottom of the study HERE.

In the "marshmallow test," which tests a child's self-control, the child is given one marshmallow but offered two if he delays eating the first for 15 minutes.(1) 

Perhaps the most famous Bible character to flunk the "marshmallow test" is Esau. 

In Genesis 25:29-34 Esau came in from hunting and demanded a bowl of stew from Jacob. Jacob, his manipulative younger brother, said he'd give him stew only if Esau gave up his birthright. 

As the oldest brother, Esau had the right to a double portion inheritance (Deuteronomy 21:17), but he was "living in the moment" so he gave up two marshmallows and settled for one.

Hebrews 12:16-17 tells us Esau lived to regret his decision but was unable to reverse it.

"Living in the moment"(2) leads to bondage, loss and regret. 

Self-control, delayed gratification, and patience--lead to freedom.  Let's choose freedom!

(1) See the 1-minute devotion Marshmallow Test 
(2) While "living in the moment" can mean simply enjoying your present situation, it also carries with it this negative connotation. 

Bible Study

1. Patience and self-control are fruits of the Spirit. What's the difference between the two?

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! (NLT)

2. As with every other fruit of the Spirit, we can not produce this fruit on our own.

Romans 15:5: May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. (NLT)

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. 

Insights
Please work through the study before reading these insights

1. According to online dictionaries: 

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 cannot produce the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, but God produces fruit only in lives that are yielded to Him and willing to obey Him. Ephesians 4:17-32 is one of many passages expressing our obligation as Christians to diligently work out our salvation (Philippians 2:12-13).  

3. I love this analogy of clothing ourselves in these qualities, covering the nakedness of our hearts with the Spirit and making our "fashion" the character qualities of Christ.
copyright 2014, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com
All Scripture NIV unless otherwise noted

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