Don’t Settle For The Soup: A Devotional Thought

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Written by Jared Mitcham

Have you ever heard of the "Candy Temptation Challenge"? It's a viral sensation where parents place candy in front of their children with one simple rule: don't eat it until the parent returns. You can watch an example below.

It's hard to resist something so tempting, especially when it's right in front of you. These videos perfectly capture the struggle of temptation.

A Foolish Trade: Jacob and Esau

These videos illustrate a choice we all face: do we settle for what's immediately in front of us, or do we wait for what God has promised?

This week, I was reminded of the story of Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25:29-34), which illustrates this concept beautifully.

Jacob and Esau were twins, sons of Isaac and Rebekah. Esau, the older twin, was a skilled hunter and his father's favorite, while Jacob, the younger, was a quiet man who stayed at home and was his mother's favorite.

One day, Esau came back from the fields, exhausted and famished. Jacob was cooking a delicious stew, and Esau, driven by his hunger, asked Jacob for some. Jacob saw an opportunity and made a proposition: "First, sell me your birthright."

The birthright was a special honor given to the firstborn son, which included a double portion of the family inheritance and leadership of the family. Despite its value, Esau, driven by his immediate hunger, replied, "Look, I am about to die. What good is the birthright to me?"

Jacob insisted that Esau swear to sell his birthright. Esau, prioritizing his immediate need over his future blessing, swore an oath to Jacob and traded his birthright for a bowl of lentil stew. Thus, Esau despised his birthright, trading something of long-term significance for momentary satisfaction.

Just like the Candy Temptation Challenge, Esau saw something right in front of him. He could see it, smell it, touch it, taste it, and imagine it fulfilling his immediate desire. He didn't see the value in his birthright because it was distant and intangible. As a result, he made a foolish choice, settling for soup rather than holding out for his birthright.

Choosing Your Portion

The story of Jacob and Esau illustrates a greater choice we all face in life: will we settle for temporary pleasures, or will we patiently wait for the inheritance God has promised?

The Bible describes this choice with the idea of "choosing your portion." David uses this phrase throughout the Psalms:

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.  (Ps 16:5–6.)
Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword, 14 from men by your hand, O Lord, from men of the world whose portion is in this life. (Ps 17:13-14.)

Choosing our portion means deciding whether we will pursue the world or God as our primary goal.

Option 1: The World As Our Portion

Choosing the world as our portion means seeking the pleasures and rewards of this life. This includes wealth, material prosperity, and other tangible benefits. Surprisingly, it seems that God often gives people exactly what they want:

14 from men by your hand, O Lord, from men of the world whose portion is in this life. You fill their womb with treasure; they are satisfied with children, and they leave their abundance to their infants. (Ps 17:14.)

David even admitted to being tempted by the prosperity of the wicked:

For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. 5 They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind. Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment. Their eyes swell out through fatness; their hearts overflow with follies.  They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression. They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue struts through the earth. 10 Therefore his people turn back to them, and find no fault in them. 11 And they say, “How can God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?” 12 Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. (Ps 73:3–12.)

Choosing the world can be tempting because it offers immediate pleasures. However, David ultimately recognized the end of this choice:

But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, 17 until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. 18 Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. 19 How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! 20 Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms. (Ps 73:16–20.)

In the end, those who choose the world make the same mistake as Esau: they settle for a bowl of soup, giving up their eternal birthright.

NOTE: It's important to note that this doesn't mean we can neglect our worldly responsibilities. There is a fine line between attending to our necessary duties and "pursuing" worldly things as an ultimate end. We are called to be responsible stewards of what God has entrusted to us, but our ultimate focus and devotion should remain on God and His promises. Each reader must allow the Holy Spirit to evaluate the motivations of his own heart to determine if he is pleasing to the Lord.

Option 2: The Lord as Our Portion

David made it clear that he chose the Lord as his portion:

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. (Ps 16:5)
26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Ps 73:26)
57 The Lord is my portion; I promise to keep your words. (Ps 119:57)
5 I cry to you, O Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” (Ps 142:5)

David chose the Lord despite suffering, affliction, and danger. In comparison to those who chose the world, he seemed worse off, yet he was infinitely better off in light of eternity.

A Pattern Repeated

This choice between the world and the Lord is illustrated throughout the Bible:

  • In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve chose the forbidden fruit over trusting God.
  • Esau traded his birthright for a bowl of soup.
  • Joshua declared, "Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15)
  • Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." (Matthew 6:24)
  • Paul urged, "Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth." (Colossians 3:1-3)
  • John warned, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (1 John 2:15)

Each of these examples reminds us that we face the same decision: will we settle for the things of this world, or will we wait for our glorious eternal inheritance from God?

An "Easy" Choice

It should be an easy choice. We look at Esau and think he was a fool for choosing the soup. Yet, the allure of immediate pleasures can be tempting.

We know choosing the world is foolish:

36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? (Mk 8:36–37)

While it's an "easy" choice, it's one we must constantly make, not just at conversion but daily when tempted to neglect God and pursue the world.

On a personal note, I've been convicted recently about my thoughts on "side hustles" rather than being content with what God provides. Pursuing these distractions shifts my focus from God to the world. I realized I've been "settling for the soup" in a subtle way.

Reflect and Choose Wisely

What about you? In what ways are you tempted to "settle for the soup" rather than choosing the Lord as your portion? Take a moment to reflect on your choices and consider how you can prioritize your eternal inheritance over temporary pleasures. Remember, the Lord is your chosen portion, and in Him, you have a beautiful inheritance waiting for you.

And the next time you are tempted to give your time, energy, and focus to the things of this world, I hope you'll remember that all the world has to offer is merely "soup" compared to the glorious riches of our eternal inheritance in Christ.

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