The Bible has a lot to say about what we do with our appetites. And probably the most famous example comes from Genesis 25, the story of Jacob and Esau. While in their mother Rebekah’s womb, “the babies jostled each other within her.” There was a battle going on between Jacob and Esau from the very beginning. The Lord told Rebekah “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23 ). The twins were opposites: Esau would go out hunting and bring home game; Jacob would stay behind and study. They lived in two different worlds. Esau won his father over with meat. And yet Rebekah knew this prophecy about Jacob and was partial to him. This gets us to the downfall of the appetite.
One day, after a long day of hunting, Esau returned home famished, and asked Jacob for some stew. Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.” The birthright was the lion’s share of the father’s inheritance, and specifically for this family, included God’s blessing that was placed on Abraham. Jacob, in exchange for this soup, wants the most valuable thing this family could even imagine. Esau allows his appetite to take control of him, and gives away his birthright, the very blessing of God, to his younger brother. The story concludes with Esau despising his birthright. He doesn’t try to get it back, he doesn’t appeal to his father, he just gets angry and bitter and turns his back on his blessing.
I’m sure most of us in this room find it inconceivable that someone would do something so stupid and trade something incredibly valuable for something so meaningless. And yet I think if we look at the world around us, we see it happening every day. It is especially important for you seniors to hear this, because for the past 18 years, most of you have had people around you checking your appetites and reminding you of what’s at stake. You’re about to go into a world where you have virtually unlimited access to anything you develop an appetite for. So how do we keep our appetites under control? How do we avoid giving up everything we have for a bowl of soup?
First, I think we have to feed our true appetite, not the substitutes. God designed us to desire Him. Our deepest need, and want, and appetite can only be satisfied by the Lord. We were made in His image to desire unity, and harmony, and peace with God. We were created to be fully known and fully loved by Him. We were created for eternal communion with the God of the universe, and yet so many of us spend our lives chasing fleeting, momentary pleasures.
The second way we can control our appetites is to practice contentment. The opposite of being hungry is being satisfied and full. If we make it a habit to be satisfied and content in our circumstances, our appetites will have little power over us (1 Timothy 6:6-12). Your unhealthy appetites will lure you into temptations, traps, ruin, and destruction. But if you are making a habit out of being content, your appetite stays under control. People who are secure and content in their circumstances don’t have to take risks just to try and meet their perceived needs.
Let me close with this, as much as I want you to avoid the temptations and traps that this next season of life is going to offer, I know that many of you will give in to your appetites. But let me encourage you with this: you’re never going to do something that puts you outside the reach of the saving arm of the Lord. So next year at this time if you find yourself sick and empty from a year of McDonald’s don’t be deceived in the way that so many people are… you haven’t out sinned the grace of God. The remedy for your soul is not to continue pushing God away because you are afraid of his judgment. The remedy for your soul is to turn to God and cling to His grace that we find in Jesus. There are going to be consequences for your sin… it’s the law of sowing and reaping, but don’t let the consequences be eternal. You are never going to find God’s back turned or arms closed.
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
- Feed your true appetite (Psalm 34:8; Matthew 4:3-4).
- Learn the secret of contentment (Philippians 4:11-13; Hebrews 13:5-6).
TAKE ONE STEP
Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)