Our Bible verse for today: “He (Esau) said to Jacob, ‘Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!’ … Jacob replied, ‘First sell me your birthright.’ ‘Look, I am about to die,’ Esau said, ‘What good is the birthright to me?’ But Jacob said, ‘Swear to me first.’ So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left.” Genesis 25:30-34 (NIV)
Our thought for today: “Resist the urge for instant gratification.”
Yesterday I told you the story about my mother. She was a great mom and an exceptional person. Everyone loved her, and for good reason – it was because she was so nice and she was such a big blessing to others. One of the reasons she was that way was because she had her priorities right. She understood what mattered and what didn’t. She was willing to sacrifice and do without, and she was very patient, especially when it came to deferred gratification.
Back in that day, grocery stores used to give what were called “S&H Green Stamps” as a reward for your purchase. The more you spent on your purchase of food, the more “green stamps” you received. You then pasted the green stamps in a sort of savings book and when the book was full, you started another one. You then saved the books so you could eventually redeem them for merchandise. There was an “S&H Green Stamp Catalog” that had everything from toys to toasters, from bicycles to vacuum cleaners. As a family we saved our green stamps so we could redeem them for products we needed or wanted. Sometimes it would take a long time, depending on the value of the product we were saving for, but it was always worth the wait. That’s a special memory from my childhood that I cherish to this day. In that way my mother taught us about delayed gratification and saving for the things we wanted.
Interestingly, after I finished writing that devotional yesterday, in my daily Bible reading I came across the story of Esau. Esau was a man who wasn’t willing to wait or sacrifice for the things that mattered. Instead, he was focused primarily on instant gratification. He wanted what he wanted, and he wanted it now. That’s what we just read about in Genesis 25:30-34 when he sold his birthright to his brother Jacob in exchange for a hot meal.
Instant gratification is not a healthy or helpful motivation in life, and it seldom produces good long-term results. That hot meal satisfied Esau for a few hours but then it was digested, it passed through his body, and soon he was hungry again – and he never got his birthright back.
It has been said that we gain nothing by choosing the immediate over the significant. That’s true. If you have the personal discipline to consistently choose the significant over the immediate, in the long run yours will be a rich and full life that leaves a lasting legacy. True quality of life takes patience, discipline, and a focus on the things that really matter. I encourage you to resist the urge for instant gratification.