Do you know how to spot a rotten deal? Wouldn’t it be great if we could see when we’re paying too much for a cheap knock-off? I’m not talking about a $10 Rolex or the latest pump-you-up supplement. Those are easy to identify as over-promising and under-delivering. I do want to talk about the struggle men have with lust and the high cost of giving in to it.
Lust wants us to think that going along with it won’t cost us too much. The choice to satisfy illicit sexual desires visually, mentally, or mechanically can feel like a quick, easy fix. But we don’t have to be the losers in this battle for our purity. We can ask the Holy Spirit to expose lust as the scam that it is.
The story of Esau and Jacob came to mind when I saw how I was trading away something of great value to gratify a base appetite. In Genesis 25:29-34, Jacob made an outrageously bad offer to Esau…and he took it! As the first-born son, Esau had the right to take leadership of their family someday and inherit twice as much as Jacob would. What was that worth to him in a moment of intense hunger? He gave it all up for fast food. Here’s how it went down (in The Message):
“One day Jacob was cooking a stew. Esau came in from the field, starved. Esau said to Jacob, “Give me some of that red stew—I’m starved!”…
Jacob said, “Make me a trade: my stew for your rights as the firstborn.”
Esau said, “I’m starving! What good is a birthright if I’m dead?”
Jacob said, “First, swear to me.” And he did it. On oath Esau traded away his rights as the firstborn. Jacob gave him bread and the stew of lentils. He ate and drank, got up and left. That’s how Esau shrugged off his rights as the firstborn.”
There are bigger issues going on here than a massively overpriced meal. What struck me, though, was the supreme value of what Esau was giving up for something so insignificant. That’s how it is with lust.
If I believe I'm gaining something from lustful thoughts, getting a good deal, it makes me want to entertain them. But I have to ignore the costs and harm...to my wife, my kids, and my Christian family, not to mention my own character. Most importantly, I disregard the huge toll that lust takes on my unity with Christ. Lust promises to satisfy a desire, but hides the massive cost. Jon Bloom, a staff writer for desiringGod.org exposes the real price of indulging in lust: “It weighs down our souls, quenches our faith, and shuts our mouths. It robs our desire to worship God, witness for Jesus, intercede for kingdom needs, encourage others, give generously, reach unreached peoples, or engage in spiritual warfare. It makes prisoners out of freemen.” That's the cost of lust.
The Holy Spirit pointed out Esau and that bowl of stew as I faced the choice: will I hold onto or set aside a treasure - my birthright of holiness and purity in Jesus? Should I exchange oneness with my wife for a sexual escape that I already know is something that will leave me feeling ashamed? The choice is clear when I consider the true value of things. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians, Ch 6, what our Heavenly Father wants us to choose:
“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
I’m thankful that God forgives, and relationships can be healed from the damage caused by lust. My prayer is that men will see lust for the cheap scam that it is - and value the price that Jesus paid for us so we can live rightly for him!
Ben, for the All In Men team, 10-8-2021