You Have A Birthright
by Jessica LaGrone
We can learn a lot at an early age from our interaction with our siblings, can’t we? Growing up I knew that the kids who had older siblings knew the cool way to dress and the cool music to listen to before anybody else. And the kids that had much younger siblings, well, they knew how to be responsible, how to baby sit, be in charge, and take care of younger kids. They knew how to boss somebody around. Some of you may have learned to tie your shoes from a sibling. Some of you might have learned your first cuss word from a sibling. And some of you, well, I bet you developed some defensive fighting skills that are so sharp, I pity the person that tries to take your purse in a dark alley.
Try to imagine being born in the times of Genesis. Jacob and Esau were born in a time when the phrase ‘not fair’ didn’t just mean that the older got new clothes and the younger got hand-me-downs. It meant that the oldest, the one who was born first, would receive both the birthright and the blessing.
A birthright was the physical inheritance in the family and the right to the place of authority. And then the blessing, the blessing was a confirmation that the oldest was the heir and the new head of the family. But it was also a sense of spiritual inheritance. It was a mark of God’s blessing in the family. So if you think the stakes of sibling rivalry are high for us today, you know that it was high for these folks because both the birthright and the blessings belonged to the oldest child!
That could explain the desire that we see wrapped up in this family, their urge to compete with each other. I do think that growing up with siblings teaches us lessons. And yet I grew up as an only child. Even if you’re an only child, you grow up learning how to compete and how to compare. The family is just the first place that we learn it. But it is certainly not the last place that we practice it. Put two young children in a room together, full of toys, and you know which toy they all want? The one the other one has, right?
In Broken and Blessed we study the story of Genesis and specifically look at the lives of Jacob and Esau. You may recall from this story when Esau returned to his father after Jacob's deception. When he came in he basically asked, "Where’s my blessing, father? Don’t you have enough left for me?" And you know, his dad didn’t. He told him he didn’t have another blessing.
So today we find ourselves competing and comparing thinking that our God may run out of blessings. And that competition, it can become a habit many years after this story. Competition is often so deep-seated that we don’t even notice we’re doing it anymore. We learn to check out our neighbors and co-workers to compare whose job is more prestigious, whose salary is higher, whose house is bigger, whose lawn is greener. We can learn to look at our friends and compare our weight, our appearance, our possessions, our accomplishments. Even siblings that are all grown up now are sometimes still working on comparisons. Who got married first? Whose kids are better behaved or more successful? Who is the better son or daughter at taking care of aging parents? Any of those sound familiar?
Competition, it just becomes so ingrained that it’s usually subconscious to us. And that sense of competition can wound our souls. It can set us about caring more about what other people think than what God thinks. And it can damage our relationships with each other.
And I don’t know if you know this, but you were born with a kind of birthright. There are details about you that make you uniquely who you are. You have a birthright that is uniquely yours. You know, if you spend all of your time measuring your birthright, measuring yourself against someone else, it’s basically saying, like Esau did, I despise my birthright.
Jacob and Esau show us that comparing ourselves to others is like trading in our birthright. It’s running away from the unique individuals God has made us to be. I encourage you today to believe that you are God’s masterpiece created to do for his kingdom something only you can fulfill. And not only that, but God wants to pour out his blessings on you and help you achieve his purpose for your life. We don’t have to measure up or earn his blessing. So, no moatter your birth order, you have a birthright. Soak in that good news.
Curious to know more about the story of Jacob and Esau or your own birthright and blessings? Join me for this in depth study of Genesis. And please, in the meantime, don't give away your birthright.
Jessica LaGrone’s new Bible Study, Broken and Blessed, is a study of the family stories of Genesis. It is a six-week Bible study that traces the story of the Genesis family from Adam and Eve through the generations to Joseph, each story bringing blessing from brokenness. Jessica is an Associate Pastor at The Woodlands United Methodist Church in The Woodlands, Texas. An acclaimed preacher, teacher, and author. She enjoys speaking at retreats and events at churches throughout the United States. She and her husband, Jim, have two young children, Drew and Kate.
Broken and Blessed can be found here.