During the graduation season many speakers try to motivate our nation’s graduates with words of wisdom and encouragement. Some of these speakers are really quite good, some have less success.
My advice for anyone graduating in 2014 is this: Beware Jacob’s Brew.
Jacob’s brew was concocted several thousand years ago as related in Exodus 25:21-34. Jacob was the twin brother of Esau. He was “momma’s boy” staying at home keeping her company while Esau was his father’s son; a true hunter and outdoorsman.
Jacob had the misfortune of being born second by just a few moments. That meant that Esau was the legal heir of everything his father, Isaac, owned. Esau would receive the birthright as the oldest son and would become heir to the family fortune as well as leadership of the family unit.
Esau was returning from a hunting trip one afternoon and was hungry, famished as the Bible tells us. He saw Jacob cooking a stew and asked if he could have some. Jacob offered a deal; Esau could have the stew in exchange for his birthright. Esau foolishly agreed.
Esau traded a blessing for something temporary. He gave up his father’s inheritance for “Jacob’s Brew.”
We do this today.
We give up the peace and joy God wants us to have in return for the temporary pleasures of the world around us. We seek happiness from many places that only provide short term satisfaction. Success, sex, material things, relationships, even alcohol and drugs; all these things are poor substitutes for the gifts God desires to give us. Only when these things are obtained within the design God made for each one can we find any enjoyment in them at all.
The greatest gift of God is the gift of His presence in our lives. God’s presence gives us strength when we are weak, guidance when we are confused, hope when life is bleak, friendship when we are lonely, membership within a loving family (the church), and a purpose to life.
Jacob’s Brew is anything that distracts us from these gifts.
My advice to graduates, and to all of us: Take hold of the true gifts God gives and avoid temporary pleasures that only leave us hungering for more.
Robert Morton is pastor of First Christian Church in Middlesboro.