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Selling One’s Birthright

Q: What is meant by the expression, “to sell one’s birthright”?

Suggested Daily Reading: Hebrews 12:12-17

A: Do you recall the history of how Esau sold his birthright?  Remember how Esau returned from hunting, being very tired and faint?  Jacob had just prepared a red meat pottage dish.  When Esau asked Jacob for some of his pottage, because he was fainting from hunger, Jacob asked him to sell his birthright to him in exchange.  And Esau did.

What was a birthright?  In Old Testament times the firstborn son received a double portion.  This was the oldest son’s inheritance.  But in the lineage of David, the birthright also included special covenant, spiritual blessings as well.

By selling these promised blessings of God for some pottage or a “morsel of meat,” Esau revealed that he did not value his birthright.

If you live in a Christian family, if you attend a Christian church, and if you have been brought up under the teaching and guidance of the Word of God, then you have a special birthright.  You can value or despise this birthright.  If you seriously pray and use the means of grace that God has given to you to seek for God, you show that you value your birthright.

If, however, you prefer to focus on earthly things and spend more time and devotion on material and temporal things than you do on heavenly and eternal things, then you “despise your birthright.”  Those who received, but despised, this divine birthright will be punished more severely than those who never did.  Those who despised their God-given birthright and sold it for a “bowl of pottage” shall weep over their foolishness as Esau did over his (Hebrews 12:17).

Are there ways in which you are selling your priceless birthright for some “pottage” of this world?  If so, in what ways are you doing this?  How can this serious error be corrected in your life?  What means can you prayerfully use to correct this problem?


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