Summary: Don’t let a desire for instant gratification disqualify you from God’s best.

I think the five most nauseating words a person can hear are, “I’m sorry, you’ve been disqualified.” Disqualification means that no matter how hard you try or how well you’ve done, you will not reach your goal. There’s something that you can never have because you’ve been disqualified.

Sometimes disqualification is just a bump in the road of life that you have no control over. When I was appointed as a student local pastor at my first church, I was all set to attend Duke Divinity School with the expectation of full-ride scholarship. After I applied I received word that I was disqualified from the scholarship because too many people lived within a one mile radius of my church. Only rural church pastors qualified.

Disqualification happens a lot in sports. Golfer Anthony Kim was recently disqualified from a tournament because one of his clubs had been altered during the game. It was apparently damaged when he accidentally snagged a water sprinkler with the club. He made a couple of shots with it before noticing that it was bent and then reported it to officials who promptly disqualified him. The Salisbury High School football team had a perfect 10-0 record this year until it was determined that one of their players had missed too many days and was ineligible to play several games. The team was disqualified from 4 of the games and now their record is 6-4.

Sometimes disqualification can ruin your life and bring terrible shame. Back in 2006, just before congressional elections Rep. Mark Foley, chairman of House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, was caught sending sexually inappropriate emails and text messages to 17 year-old male pages. Foley resigned, was labeled a pedophile, and may have cost the Republicans their House majority in 2006 because of the scandal.

Sickening words aren’t they? “You’ve been disqualified.”

In the story from Genesis 25 we read about a man who was disqualified. Esau, the firstborn son of Isaac and Rebekah, the slightly older brother of Jacob, was the one who should have been the eventual leader of the family and the person who would carry God’s covenant to bless all nations forward in history. The sad fact is, he made himself ineligible. His character and conduct disqualified him from joining the LORD God in His grand plan.

There was some indication early on that this would happen. As a baby Esau was red and hairy. Ancient people often derived the names of their children from the circumstances of their birth. This child was called Esau or Edom which means “hairy red guy.” Interestingly, certain character traits revealed themselves in this baby from day one. The hairiness said that there was wildness in this child, and he certainly displayed animal-like behavior. Red denoted passion then, as it does now. That’s exactly the kind of man Esau grew up to be.

It’s funny how much you can tell about another human being within five minutes of their birth. When my children were born they displayed certain patterns of behavior that I still see in them to this day. In the story Esau was a wild man from birth while Jacob lived up to his character as an opportunistic “heel-grabber” who could trip others up to get what he wanted.

Those early signs were not what disqualified Esau. His actions later on brought about the real downfall. As firstborn Esau was in line for the birthright. Receiving the birthright mean he was entitled to a double share of the inheritance, leadership of the family, and, in this case, God’s promise of the land of Canaan for his descendants and that his family would become a great nation to bless all the families of earth. Esau could have been the guy through whom God revealed Himself to the world and offered salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, Esau disqualified himself and the privilege went to his younger brother Jacob.

It all happened, as you know, over a bowl of stewed lentils. Esau, returning from an apparently unsuccessful hunting trip, happened upon Jacob cooking while camping with some of his father’s shepherds. Esau was famished from the hunt and grunted out an order for some of Jacob’s stew. Knowing Esau’s impulsive character, Jacob made a deal: sell me your birthright and I’ll give you the stew. Esau was a man so in tune with his urges and appetites that it was no big deal at all. He valued a quick meal over his priceless heritage. He sold his birthright along with all of its privileges and promises from God. Why? To fill his gut. The author of Genesis makes this comment:

He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright. Genesis 25:34

Esau didn’t hate his birthright. He just didn’t value it sufficiently. He valued the immediate over the long term. This was the defining event of his life and it disqualified him in God’s sight. The book of Hebrews warns us not to follow the same course. Interestingly, Hebrews links sexual sin with Esau’s actions:

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