‘Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept’ (Genesis 33:4 NIV)
Esau always seems to get a bad press among Christians. After all he was the one who came in famished from a day’s hunting and despised his birthright by selling it for a bowl of stew
What a loser!
Or was he?
It’s easy to write Esau off, but if we do so too quickly and too harshly then we will miss a deeply moving lesson from his life.
Undoubtedly there was some animosity between Esau and his brother Jacob. Not only had Jacob got Esau to sell him the family birthright but he also tricked him and robbed him of their father’s blessing
(Genesis 27). As a result Esau held a grudge against Jacob
(Genesis 27:41) and planned to kill him, so their mother Rebekah sent Jacob away to her brother Laban in Harran
Many years later when Jacob returned from Harran to his father’s land with his family, entourage and flocks he did so with fear and trepidation, especially as Esau came out to meet him with 400 men
(Genesis 32:6-7). Jacob sent his brother some gifts in the hope that they would pacify his anger
(Genesis 32:13-21) and Esau’s response is a great lesson to all of us:
‘Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept. Then Esau looked up and saw the women and children. “Who are these with you?” he asked. Jacob answered, “They are the children God has graciously given your servant.” Then the female servants and their children approached and bowed down. Next, Leah and her children came and bowed down. Last of all came Joseph and Rachel, and they too bowed down. Esau asked, “What’s the meaning of all these flocks and herds I met?” “To find favor in your eyes, my lord,” he said.
But Esau said, “I already have plenty, my brother. Keep what you have for yourself.” “No, please!” said Jacob. “If I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me. For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favourably.’ (Genesis 33:4-10).
Esau not only forgave Jacob but let him keep his gifts for himself and in doing so Jacob said it’s like looking at the face of God.
Because God dispenses forgiveness, grace and gifts on us. That’s the way God is to us and the way he wants us to treat other people as he lives in and through us.
Who would have thought we could learn such a lesson from Esau? Perhaps he wasn’t a loser after all; what do you think?
Father, please grant us a forgiving heart so that we are able to show love and grace to those who have wronged us in some way.
Have a forgiving week,