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We all love instantaneous 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 (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 instantaneous gratification always a good thing? No, not always!
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Biblical Example of Instantaneous Gratification
The Bible gives us a textbook example of the dangers of instantaneous 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!
“And the children struggled together within her; she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the Lord.
And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; the one people shall be stronger than the other people; the elder shall serve the younger.” Genesis 25:22-23 KJV
“…Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents.” KJV
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:
“And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint…”
Some translations use the words exhausted, famished. The Hebrew word for “faint” is ‘ayeph and the meaning is faint or weary. Basically, 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 me this day thy birthright.”
Instantaneous Gratification in a Bowl of Stew
Seems a steep price to pay for a bowl of stew, doesn’t it? A birthright for one meal?
“Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?” KJV
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 tired. Now all of a sudden he is at death’s door.
So he sells his birthright for a bowl of 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 instantaneous gratification.
Giving Up Too Soon
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.
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.
The Dangers of Instantaneous Gratification
The problem with instantaneous 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 settled in many cases. 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.
If we receive instantaneous 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 they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 KJV