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Why is it so Hard to Resist Material Possessions?

Feb 3rd, 2018 | Josh Krampitz

The Allegory of Jacob and Esau

I feel as though I can always be “better” at Christianity; whether that is defined by how I spend my time, money, energy, etc. I never really feel like I am enough for God, yet I know in my mind that that is the enemy’s lie. However, I also know I have chosen to do, purchase, or think about certain things in which I am certain God would not feel glorified. But is that not all too common? We make decisions based on some innate part of our most carnal nature without any nod to anything outside of our physical bodies and most of the time, we do not give those decisions much of a second thought, if at all. Does that make it wrong?

Can we blame those who make wrong decisions without consciously understanding a better alternative? Are the ideas of “better” or “worse” subjective and cultural when it comes to decision making or is there a way to measure the “goodness” of a person’s decision? Some would say that anything done for the glory of God would be considered “good” and that anything done out of selfishfness, spite, or mal intent would be considered “bad.” But how far does that go? Is that limited to a conscious, situational acknowledgement of both options or are we judged on what should be in our conscious thoughts as well?

I remember the story of Jacob and Esau, a biblical story in the book of Genesis about two very brothers. Esau was the brute hunter, his father’s favorite; but Jacob was the quiet and cunning one, his mother’s favorite. While their father was dying, Esau was promised His father’s inheritance but Jacob and his mother, finally seeing an opportunity for Jacob to become something that would outlive him, offer Esau a bowl of lentil soup in exchange for basically a chance at eternity (as it was a cultural exchange for the father to pass down everything he owned and an ancestral blessing to one of his male heirs). After that, Jacob visits his blind and dying father (disguised as Esau) and receives this eternal inheritance, his plan succeeding. Esau was furious when he heard this; Jacob ran away to a distant relative where he married the girl of his dreams and ended up fathering twelve sons who became the twelve tribes of Israel.

Did Esau even have a right to be mad? Was it not he who chose hunger over glory? Was it not he that was so narrow minded that he saw soup over his father’s blessing? Why was Jacob rewarded by God if He had been so deceptive?

All of these questions allude to a heresy in the making, except for maybe one answer: God rewarded Jacob because Jacob saw something beyond himself and worked for it. Jacob was not squandered by the “things” in front of him and Jacob took a risk. What if I told you today that taking a healthy risk is better in God’s eyes than sitting and waiting for Him to tell you to do so? I could be wrong and I am simply speculating here about God’s value for initiative. However the evidence in this story would suggest that Jacob’s initiative and drive trumped Esau’s given birthright solely on the basis that Jacob did not get distracted from it.

Hopefully by this point you are not discouraged. I really do hope that you do not feel like a lazy loser because the temptation of “lentil soup” is amplified 100 times in the modern era of technology. Food, yes, is a factor, but I am talking about things like television, video games, social media, shopping, organization, and so much more; these things that we become addicted to never start as bad things, but in excess and as a priority can be dangerous.

Problems with resistance start when original priorities are not addressed. My wife recently told me that when she eats, she has started to look at food as a means to nourishment so that she can serve in her job better. On the other hand, when I eat, I tend to look for the saltiest, cheesiest, starchiest possible meal to enjoy for the flavor and the satisfaction. Do you see the difference? Food is not bad, but if you were to compare my skin to Jen’s; or our daily energy levels and you will most likely conclude that I have the wrong outlook about my diet. In the same way, entertainment can be a great, and beautiful art; but in the age of on-demand streaming and instant communication, many of us have failed to assess our priorities and, sitting down to watch a quick T.V. show can quickly multiply into hours upon hours of binge-watching madness. Our day is wasted.

Some people argue that the solution as to be purging of all material and addictive possessions, but I do not think that all of us are called to that, although some of us might be. The other 99.9% of the population then must reassess our priorities before falling into the addictive trap. Never “turn your mind off” and never stop working towards the goal that you have been called to achieve. You can rest; you can eat; you can sleep; but maybe a regimen might lend some assistance. Never let a simple bowl of lentil soup distract you from your call and in the same way, if you are consistently working hard, celebrating the small wins, resting smart, and enjoying God’s gifts to creation wisely, no man will ever be able to come between you and the promises of Heaven.

 

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