by Ken Gardner

The Bible says that Esau “despised” his birthright (Gen. 25:34). “Despise” is a pretty strong word, and I’m not so sure he looked at it with contempt as much as he was just indifferent to it. “Despise” comes from two Latin words, de-, down, and specere, to look, so “despise” means (1) “to look down on with contempt or scorn,” or (2) “to regard with extreme dislike and hostility,” or (3) “to regard as trivial or worthless” (American Heritage Dictionary). It may be that Esau didn’t think his birthright was despicable but “trivial or worthless.” He later realized just have very valuable his birthright was and deeply, deeply regretted how he had taken it for granted.

I guess there are at least two very valuable lessons we today should learn from Esau. First, let’s be very careful not to take for granted all that we have that is so very precious and dear to us: our families, our brothers and sisters in the church, our relationship with God, the many, many opportunities we have to serve God and others and do what’s right, and the incredible material blessings and freedoms we enjoy in our very prosperous, modern, and free country. We truly live better than kings of old; we have superb medical care, more food than we need, jobs that are not pure drudgery, educational opportunities, cars and highways, central heating and cooling, peace and security, leisure time, and on and on we could go. The way of life in past generations and in other lands today cannot compare with what we have. Let’s not take any of it for granted.

Secondly, let’s not have any regrets. That is, let’s live our lives in such a way that we won’t have any regrets later, at least not any serious regrets. Years later Esau was filled with regret. He desperately wanted his birthright—the Bible says he “sought for it carefully with bitter tears”—but he “could find no opportunity to repair by repentance what he had done,” or he could find “no chance to recall the choice he had made” (Heb. 12:17, Amplified Version). “He could find no way to change what he had done” (NCV).

I suspect there will be as much regret as pain in hell. So be careful what you “despise.”