Friday, January 11, 2013

Surviving the Survival Instinct

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Friday, January 11, 2013: Genesis 24:52-26:16

31 But Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day.”  32 And Esau said, “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?”  33 Then Jacob said, “Swear to me as of this day.”  So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.  Genesis 25:31-34 (NKJV)

Satan slandered faithful Job by predicting that under pressure, Job would become a "sell out". “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” (Job 2:4-5)  The cynic says that every man has his price.  All men may be bought.  Put enough pressure on a man and he will break.  A man will sell just about anything in order to survive.

Esau had everything going for him.  He was the elder son of a wealthy man.  He was favored by his father.  He was robust and healthy.  But, he fell into a tight spot, survival instinct kicked in, and he sold his birthright.

This is an important consideration in our world today.  The stress of life has worn people thin.  The pressures of schedule, finances, job, and tiredness have stretched many people to the breaking point.  If you ask someone how they're doing, they might often say, "Making it", or "Worn out", or "It's just a busy season".  It seems unavoidable.

But, are we losing something here?  Are the pressures of life robbing us of our birthright?  Esau felt that he was about to die, so what is the use of a birthright in the first place if you go under?  So he sold it.  The pressures of life can lead us to let go of some our most valuable possessions.  And we do this because we feel we must JUST TO SURVIVE.

The pressures of time can lead us to let go of our personal time with the Lord.  The pressures of work can lead us to miss time with our children.  The pressures of finances can cause a marriage to lose its vibrancy.  Many have dropped out of friendships and family simply because we don't have time for it any more.  Church becomes an unnecessary intrusion into a cluttered like.

Esau sold his birthright for a crust of bread and a bowl of stew.  In that moment, he felt he had to do it.  He EXAGERRATED his current distress.  I find this can happen to many of us.  In a panic, we say or do things that are unwise and that we later regret.  In fact, Esau was NOT about to die.  He just wanted IMMEDIATE GRATIFICATION more than future possibilities.

SURVIVAL MENTALITY can do that to you.  Jesus gives us a prescription for surviving the survival mentality.  In Matthew 16, He says, "For whosoever would save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it" (16:25).  This sounds too simple, but here it is.  He says that if you slip into a survival mentality you're going to lose everything anyway.  You're going to lose the most valuable things you have.  Therefore, go ahead and let go now.  Make the big exchange.  Give it to Jesus.  Lay your life down before Him and He will give you a new life. 

Jesus continues, "For what shall a man be profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and forfeit his life? or what shall a man give in exchange for his life?" (16:26).  God has a wonderful, joy-filled, blessed life for you.  It is your birthright.  It is the presence of the Kingdom of God in your life right now!  It is awesome.  There is nothing more important than staying in right relationship to God and your primary responsibilities.  There are endless temptations for you to sell out that good birthright for lesser things -- for immediate gratification -- for fool's gold.  Don't do it.  It's not worth it. 

That bowl of stew may smell good right now.  But tomorrow you will be glad you left it alone.  You will survive.  You will MORE THAN SURVIVE.  You will prevail.  You will survive the survival mentality.


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