Friday, August 14, 2020

Beware of Esau

"Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things" (Philippians 3:19)

As we come to the end of Philippians 3, we see Paul again alluding to the threat posed by the Judaizers. The Philippians are reminded about prior warnings about the Judaizers, and now with tears he must warn them again. Many of these Judaizers were men for whom Paul had high hopes, but who wound up rejecting the Gospel and falling back into grievous errors. They became, Paul said, “enemies of the cross of Christ” (3:18).

Paul characterized them as new Esaus. Just as Esau persecuted Jacob, fighting him even in the womb, so these better Esaus were bringing grief to the true Israel of God. Paul warned the Philippians not to follow them, because their end would be destruction, and those who followed them would follow them to hell. 

Esau-like, their gods were their bellies. Esau was willing so sell his birthright to the kingdom of God in order to get a quick meal from Jacob. Esau was hungry, but if he had waited twenty minutes, any of the servants could have made him a meal. But his god was his stomach, and he despised the covenant (Genesis 25:29–34).

Esau’s mind was on earthly things, and what he regarded as important were things of which he should have been ashamed. A true minister of the Gospel feels internal shame when he catches himself seeking earthly gain and glory at the expense of his flock. Sadly, the Judaizers were not the last Esaus in the church of Jesus Christ. Down through the centuries and into our own day we see many ministers who are more interested in their careers than in their callings. They pursue glory and riches, and ignore their congregations’ needs.

Paul knew that Christians have earthly needs, and he also knew that it is possible to become so focused on these earthly needs that we forget the cross of Christ. There is nothing wrong with wanting to take care of your family, but there is something deadly when such a concern overwhelms everything else. Paul therefore tells us to keep our eyes focussed on Jesus Christ. When He returns, He will reward us all, and He will transform our bad situations into wonderful ones that will last forever. The problems of this life are of only a short duration.

In light of today’s blog post, take a good look at your concerns. What do you worry about? Are worries overwhelming your focus on Christ and on the kingdom? Take time in prayer today to re-center your focus on the kingdom of God, and ask for the Spirit to give you strength to resist the things of this world.