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We all love instant gratification, don’t we? We like things right now! We are a society that can access information in an instant! We can place an order on Amazon right from the comfort of our living room and have it delivered at lightning speed to our front doors (and it’s only going to get faster)!
I get it! I am a huge Amazon fan for that very reason! It is awesome when you need something fast and can get it!
But is that instantaneous gratification always a good thing? No, not always! Learn why you should never settle for less than God’s best for you by giving in to instant gratification!
Example of Instant Gratification in the Bible
The Bible gives us a textbook example of the dangers of instant gratification. It can be found in the story of our old friend Jacob and his brother, Esau.
Jacob and Esau
Jacob and Esau were brothers, the sons of Issac and Rebekah. They were twins and had been literally fighting each other since the womb!
“But the children struggled with one another inside her, and she said, “If it’s like this, why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of Adonai. Adonai said to her:
“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from your body
will be separated.
One people will be stronger
than the other people,
but the older will serve the younger.” “TLV
“…Jacob was a mild man, remaining in tents.” TLV
One day, Esau comes back from a hunting trip and he is tired and hungry! He spots some stew that Jacob had made and he asks for a bowl. Genesis 25:30:
“so Esau said to Jacob, “Please feed me some of this really red stuff, because I’m exhausted”—that is why he is called Edom.” TLV
Some translations use the words faint, famished. The Hebrew word for “faint” is ‘ayeph and the meaning is faint or weary. Basically, as in the version above, he was tired.
I find it funny that he did not mention hungry. He merely said he was tired but one could assume he was tired and run down from hunger since he sought food.
So Jacob, being the loving brother he is (insert sarcasm here…) says in Genesis 25:31:
“Sell your birthright to me today.” TLV
Instantaneous Gratification in a Bowl of Red Stew
Seems a steep price to pay for a bowl of stew, doesn’t it? A birthright for one meal?
“Esau said, “Look, I’m about to die. Of whatever use is this to me—a birthright?”” TLV
Now, I am guessing here that Esau was being a bit melodramatic.
He was probably not at the point of death at all.
Oh, it may have felt that way! I have been pretty hangry before and it can definitely feel that way!
But recall, when he asked for the stew he didn’t even mention hunger. He didn’t say he was starving to death. He merely said he was exhausted. Now all of a sudden he is at death’s door.
So he sells his birthright for a bowl of red stew.
The Bible tells us then that Esau despised his birthright.
The Hebrew word used here is bazah and means to hold in contempt, to be worthless. He saw everything his birthright afforded him now and in the future, worthless because of momentary hunger.
He sold his birthright for instant gratification.
The Dangers of Instant Gratification
How many times do we FEEL like we are just going to die if we don’t get what we want?
Esau was willing to give up everything just for a bowl of stew.
He allowed his physical discomfort to distort his sense of need. He allowed his flesh to make a decision that would alter his life. At that moment, he felt like all the blessings in the world would be useless if he were dead.
He settled for less! He had his birthright and he settled for less!
What are we willing to give up to meet our immediate need? What do we sacrifice in order to fulfill the NOW?
How do we allow fear to override faith in our circumstances?
I have done it. We all have done it at one time or another.
Never Settle for Less
The problem with instant gratification is it often comes with regret. Once we get what we wanted we soon realize the extent of what we gave up to get it.
We realize we, like Esau, settled for less. It could be what we gave up was something of great value or it could be that we gave up our peace.
Esau, I am sure, likely ate his stew and, as soon as his need was met, he realized just what he gave up to get it and it paled in comparison. He probably lived with that regret for quite some time.
Regret seems a steep price to pay to satisfy our flesh in the moment. Never settle for less! Never settle for less than what God has planned for you simply to satisfy yourself and your wants or needs in the here and now!
If we receive instant gratification often enough, we can easily lose the willingness to wait on God and for what He has for us. We lose the ability to manage expectations because we want what we want when we want it.
We become driven by our flesh and its wants, rather than by the Spirit. In essence, we remove God from the situation.
What blessings of God are we robbing ourselves of, what blessings are we giving up, by settling for stew?
“but those who hope in Adonai will renew their strength,
they will soar aloft as with eagles’ wings;
when they are running they won’t grow weary,
when they are walking they won’t get tired.” CJB
CJB – Taken from the Complete Jewish Bible by David H. Stern. Copyright © 1998. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Messianic Jewish Publishers, 6120 Day Long Lane, Clarksville, MD 21029. www.messianicjewish.net.
Tree of Life (TLV) – Scripture taken from the Holy Scriptures, Tree of Life Version*. Copyright © 2014,2016 by the Tree of Life Bible Society. Used by permission of the Tree of Life Bible Society.