What Will You Give Your Heart To?

            Jacob was about to meet his brother Esau after not seeing him for twenty years, and he was frightened. Jacob feared that the consequences of his actions had finally caught up with him. 

            This takes place in Genesis 32. If you are not aware, Jacob and Esau were twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah. Esau was the firstborn, which meant that he should have been the one who was in line to become the leader and patriarch of the family whenever Isaac died. He would have also inherited the blessing that God gave to their grandfather, Abraham: “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2). Esau was destined for wonderful things; that was his right as the first-born son. 

            Unfortunately for Esau, his brother would ruin all of that for him. First, Jacob took advantage of him in Genesis 25 and Esau gave his “birthright” away to his brother in exchange for some stew. Then in Genesis 27, Jacob lied to and tricked his dad, Isaac, who was old and blind, into giving him the blessing that should have gone to Esau. With these two schemes, Jacob took all the power, inheritance, prestige, and authority that Esau should have received. Because of this, Esau was left with basically nothing. Jacob, on the other hand, got everything. Needless to say, Esau didn’t have the highest opinion of his brother. 

            Jacob then left home, married Leah and Rachel, and had a slew of kids. After having lived in the city of his wives for twenty years, Jacob decides to go back home. As he was approaching the city in which Esau lived, he sent messengers to his brother to announce his arrival. The messengers returned with news that Esau was coming with four hundred men to meet Jacob. Jacob assumed his brother meant war and prepared to be attacked. He even sent a large amount of livestock and servants ahead as a gift to Esau, in hopes of quelling the rage that he assumed that his brother had. 

            Then, something unexpected happens when they finally meet. “Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept” (Gen. 33:4). Esau wasn’t angry; he was elated to see his brother. He wasn’t even interested in the peace offering that Jacob sent him. Although, he would go on to accept it after Jacob strongly persisted. Esau also got to meet Jacob’s family. All was well between the two brothers and would remain so for the rest of their lives. 

            In this story, it would have been very easy for Esau to hate his brother. He had been manipulated and taken advantage of multiple times by Jacob. He should have been the heir to everything that Isaac had, but it was all stolen from him. He should have been the one who was made into a great nation, but it was Jacob who would go on to have his name changed to Israel and be the forefather of Jewish people. Quite frankly, Esau had every reason to attack his brother that day; but instead, he chose forgiveness.

            What would have been the best outcome if Esau would have acted on his hurt and anger instead of forgiving his brother? Property would have been destroyed, people would have died, and lives would have been ruined. Even then, Esau still wouldn’t have been able to receive what had been lost to him. He chose the higher path, which worked out best for everyone.

            We all can easily get sucked into acting out of our hurt and anger towards someone. We want to get even with the person who has caused us some sort of strife. What does that ever achieve? We can make someone’s life worse, but it never actually makes ours better. Harboring hatred is a poison to our hearts; it eats away at the joy that should be residing there. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I have decided to stick to love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” Hate only ever weighs us down, even if we think it is justified.

            Colossians 3:13 says, “… Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” I think part of the reason that we are instructed to throw forgiveness around as freely as Jesus did is because holding a grudge will have a costly, negative impact on our life. Hate will take our hearts captive every chance that it can— the very same heart that Christ came to set free. We have to battle against that. The only way to release the hate that is dwelling inside of us is to forgive those whom it is directed towards. That is the only way in which we can truly free up the space in our hearts so that it can be filled with love.

            Esau had every reason to hate his brother and want to get revenge on him. Instead, he chose to forgive him and set both of them free to live lives that rose above violence and pain. Maybe you need to do that today as well. Maybe there is someone in your life who you despise because they have hurt you. I implore you to forgive them. Not because they deserve it, but because you do. Your heart deserves to be free and filled with joy and love. Don’t let anyone steal that from you. Choose this day what you will give your heart to: hatred or love. Hatred will always lead to death; love will always lead to life.

***If you liked this, then I think that you’ll enjoy my book. You can buy it by going here. Also, I have started a His Kingdom/ Our Good podcast. It’s available on Apple Podcast, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, and Anchor.***

Published by smith1626

I am the Director of Youth Ministries at St. John United Methodist Church in Scott Depot, WV. Mostly, I am a sinner saved by amazing grace.

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