Jacob, an opportunist


As we delve into the scriptures, we witness Jacob’s competitive nature, driving him to impatience with God’s plan for his life. This competitiveness became increasingly evident as he grew older.

And the Lord said to her:

“Two nations are in your womb,?Two peoples shall be separated from your body;?One people shall be stronger than the other,?And the older shall serve the younger.” So when her days were fulfilled for her to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb.  And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name Esau. Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them. So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents. Genesis 25:23-27.

God specifically informed Rebekah that she would bear two sons, with the older (Esau) destined to serve the younger (Jacob). Jacob was already chosen by God to lead his family.

During delivery, Jacob grasped his brother’s heel in their mother’s womb, foreshadowing his tendency to vie for position. Such behavior, commonly known as “grabbing,” denotes one who seeks to supplant others or seize attention.

But Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day.” Genesis 25:31

Esau came home famished one day, and Jacob took advantage of the opportunity by making an agreement with him to sell his birthright. This was the first time that Jacob took the matters in his own hands and tried to get something that God would have eventually given him had he been patient. Esau didn’t value his birthright and that allowed Jacob to get away with his action and snatch the birthright without a fight or an argument!

One day, Esau returned home famished, providing Jacob with an opportunity. Exploiting this moment, Jacob negotiated the sale of Esau’s birthright. This marked Jacob’s first attempt to expedite God’s plan through his own actions, rather than patiently awaiting divine providence. Esau’s disregard for his birthright facilitated Jacob’s success, as he obtained it without resistance.

Jacob showed his shrewdness, seizing opportunities to advance his interests. Yet, like many opportunists, each success emboldened him for future endeavors.

When does diligence transition into opportunism? The line is crossed when we seek to claim what rightfully belongs to another. Engaging in healthy competition is one thing, but coveting what belongs to others reflects a departure from serving God to serving self.

Excuses based on intellect, capability, or diligence fail to justify such actions. Jacob might have rationalized that Esau’s lack of organization led to his hunger, yet this did not justify exploiting the situation for personal gain. Rather than expressing genuine concern for his brother’s hunger, Jacob’s primary motivation was to obtain Esau’s birthright.

The truth is birthright might not be relevant in our culture, but some may still have the opportunist tendencies desiring others’ jobs, careers, ministries or any other aspect of life. Similarly, gossiping or spreading rumors to undermine others is harmful manifestation of opportunism.

Are you opportunistic? If so, what do you plan to do about it? Do you see the line when you cross over from being diligent to becoming opportunistic?

The Lord has his way of fulfilling his promises that will make us be at awe of Him! On the other hand, if we try to make them happen in our own efforts, we can open the door to strife and division, which is not an atmosphere where God wants to dwell.

I will continue with this subject in the next devotional.

Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay

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