(First Published on 02/27/07)
Read Hebrews 12: 12-17.
Growing up, I was not noted for my Sports ability. My atlhetic endeavors caused considerable laughter among my classmates. I always looked forward for a new school year because I was under the misapprehension that somehow, I would be stronger, faster, more skillful; I would be a new John Guthrie. Every year, I was brought back to reality. In tenth grade, a new aquaitance came up to me and said"From now on, your name is not John Guthrie. It is Tom Pridemore." Tom Pridemore was an outstanding player for West Virginia University. This was meant to be sarcastic. With a few people, the name stuck. To this day, there is a woman from my High School class who thinks my name is Tom Pridemore. For a few people, the nickname sterotyped me; I became a "type." I represented Sports at its worst.
The name Esau became a type. A real man, his behavior made him a representitive of a type of person. Unfortunately, he represented a type of person the writer to the Hebrews warns us to avoid. Esau was labeled a profane man. For one morsal of meat, he sold his birthright to his brother Jacob. The Genesis account clearly portrays him as one who gives up the good, the eternal, for the physical need of the moment. While God had said to his mother that Jacob would be the child of promise, Esau's birthright still entitiled him to a certain status as the eldest. Yet he gave these things away for food. He married women who were not approved of by his parents, they worshipped idols. For the sake of pleasure, he gave continual grief to his parents. He disregarded them and their God. Once he realized he had been tricked out of his father's blessing by his brother, he wanted to murder his brother. Esau was a man who lived for the moment, one who lived just to gratify his own appetites. Unlike Moses, who forsook the pleasures of sin for the righteousness of Christ. This is what the writer to Hebrews warned us against becoming.
Lets look at the Hebrews passage closely.
12:12-13. The writer compares our spiritual life with the limbs of our bodies. If one ties up a limb of our body for a couple of months, that limb becomes useless through disuse. We have to retrain ourselves to use that limb. The writer is talking about disuse, not injury. Failure to cultivate our walk with the Lord causes our spiritual life to stagnate. We have to work to bring that relationship back to health.
12:14-16. We are called to a walk of holiness. But not just for ourselves. We are to watch to make sure no brother or sister falls away from the grace of God. Failure to do so causes our brothers and sisters not only to become bitter themselves, but these will also corrupt the rest of the Church in their disobedience. These disobedient ones will become like Esau, the profane person who sold his birthright, who only cared about instant self-gratification.
Yes, we are to examine our own walk with the Lord. But we are also to watch and protect everyone that we can. We are to restore those who fall. We are to protect the Church. We will be held accountable for our attempts to see our brothers and sisters reach their full potential in God. Failure will produce a Church full of those who seek to gratify their senses.