The Esau Complex

Aug 29, 2016   //   by Nel Sewraj   //   Blog  //  No Comments

All of us are familiar with the incident of Genesis 25:29-34. Here Esau sells his birthright to his brother Jacob for a pot of red stew. At the center of this incident is something called a ‘birthright’. What was this? Why was it important?

What is the Birthright? 

The birthright was ordained by God under the Mosaic Law. It basically pertained to the ‘inheritance’ that the firstborn son received from his father:

  1. The firstborn sons inherited a double portion of his father’s estate, possessions and wealth.
  2. The firstborn son inherited the covenant rights to continue the lineage of his father and God’s purpose for his family or tribe.
  3. The firstborn son inherited headship. He was bestowed with the authority over his father’s household.

But what has this to do with us?

The birthright was only for the ‘firstborn’. Colossians 1:15 and 18 says that Jesus is the “firstborn” Which means that Jesus inherits all the rights over the Father’s Kingdom.

What’s more is that Romans 8:17 says that we who are children of God are “joint-heirs/co-heirs” with Christ! So we too have the rights of the firstborn in our Father’s Kingdom! Think about the ramifications:

  1. We inherit the earth, the Kingdom of God, spiritual & material blessings and so on.
  2. We carry-over & continue God’s covenant. We become the fulfillment generation, the finishing generation that brings all things to culmination.
  3. We are the kings and priests that will rule & reign with Christ.



Esau unfortunately sold his birthright for a pot of stew. His shoddy treatment of his birthright is not unlike so many in the Church today.  Many Christians are suffering from the same complex, the Esau Complex. It occurs when they unknowingly & unsuspectingly relinquish their spiritual blessings and God-given privileges for immediate gratification and material needs. In their desperation to indulge the flesh, they squander their spiritual legacy and destiny in God.

In every generation, God’s people have shown symptoms of the Esau Complex. There are numerous examples in the Bible. Some include:

  • Adam & Eve – They ate the forbidden fruit and were excommunicated from the Garden.
  • The people of Noah’s day – They gave themselves to sensuality & forfeited their chances of divine deliverance from the impending floods.
  • Moses – He succumb to the murmurings of the people, became angry and sinned by hitting the rock instead of speaking to it. As a result he lost the privilege of entering the Promised Land.



1. The inability to make present sacrifices to gain future success.

  • Esau was unable to make present sacrifices. He preferred a temporary, immediate satisfaction (a quick –fix) – instead of lasting success and benefits. Moreover Esau did not consider the long-term consequences of his decision.

2. A priority complex

  • Esau had deficient value systems. He placed more value on his physical and fleshly need. Most believers are guilty of pursuing material needs and things pertaining to this life more than the betterment of their spiritual condition.

3. Spiritual myopia (shortsightedness)

  • Esau saw no immediate benefit for his birthright. Neither could not envision the future benefits of his birthright. When believers experience no immediate benefits of living the Kingdom life they become disheartened, discontent & frustrated. Refuse to live without foresight into your destiny in God.

4. The absence of God in one’s decision making process.

  • The birthright was a God-given privilege. Esau’s decision shows that he had no concern for relationship with God. He devalued God. Also Esau had become familiar with his birthright. He took it for granted.



In Matthew 4:8-9 Jesus endures hunger & relinquishes Satan’s offer to fame. He placed higher value on His spiritual purpose & destiny. He had foresight & faith-sight to believe that God would bless him in the future. He shows us how to always bring God and his Word into the opportunities offered to us.

Similarly Jacob (who becomes the ancestor of Christ) placed higher value on spiritual promises and blessings. The the things of heaven mattered to Jacob. Unlike Esau, Jacob placed higher value on God and Kingdom realities.


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