Greed And Envy Damage Families: A Look At Jacob

Every family has experienced some level of sibling rivalry, but Esau and Jacob are the poster children. In the womb, these boys could not get along. In life, the fighting continued. Genesis 25:31-34 show us how dangerous greed and envy can be.

Esau was the older of the two boys. As the eldest son, tradition held that he would get the family birthright. He was considered second to his father, Isaac, and he had special privileges. Upon his father’s death, he was also entitled to a double portion of the family estate.

Since Isaac was also an heir to God’s promise to Abraham, this also put Esau and his descendants in line to inherit God’s promises.

While the temporal benefits held some value, God’s promise was priceless. This promise was a great honor, and even Jacob could see the value of such an inheritance. He was determined to be able to share in that promise.

God will consider our methods

While Jacob’s yearning and desire might be considered admirable, his approach made his efforts dishonorable.

Jacob used his brother’s desperation as an opportunity to take advantage of him. Knowing how vulnerable Esau was in his hunger, Jacob coerced his brother into exchanging a priceless treasure for something that fulfilled his need for instant gratification. How often do we lose a piece of ourselves as we seek instant gratification in our own lives?

Even if the prize is of priceless value, we must consider the questions asked in Matthew 16:26: “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (NLT)

The Bible reminds us to consider our methods of achieving any goal, even if it is a goal that could be admirable. Deuteronomy 25:16 tells us, “For the LORD your God detests anyone who does these things, anyone who deals dishonestly.” (NIV) God will not approve of our accomplishments if we go about them the wrong way.

Solomon urges us to think of the possible negative consequences of our actions. “The integrity of the honest keeps them on track; the deviousness of crooks brings them to ruin.” (Proverbs 11:3 The Message) We may end up doing more harm than good, even if our intentions in the beginning were right.

We should always strive to be like Christ. Paul told the Hebrews about the lifestyle they hoped to exemplify: to “have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way.” (Hebrews 13:18 NIV)

Go back to the basics

While we may find ourselves putting on our blinders as we focus intently on our destination, we must constantly remind ourselves of the foundation for working toward living honorably. James reminds us of the Old Testament’s greatest commandment, as found in Leviticus 19:18. He writes, “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right.” (James 2:8 NIV)

If Jacob would have loved Esau as he loved himself, he would not have taken advantage of his twin brother. As badly as we may want some things in life, we should remind ourselves that God’s plans for us are greater than our own comprehension. We should learn to be content with the blessings God has provided to us, and not aim for stealing the blessings of those around us.