Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” Genesis 25:32
The problem with living at the level of impulse is that over the course of a lifetime all kinds of impulses will come to you, some of them good, and some of them bad.
You see someone who is cold in the street and immediately there is an impulse within you that you should give them some money or a cup of coffee. That’s a good impulse. It’s called compassion.
Esau had good impulses. At the end of the story, when he meets his brother, Jacob, Esau forgives him. It is a wonderful thing. There were some wonderful things about Esau. He had a generous spirit. When he felt it was time to draw a line under old wounds, he did it.
But the problem with acting on impulse is that our impulses are a mixture of good and bad. Most temptations come in the form of impulse, in fact that is exactly what temptation is—an impulse to do something God has said you should never do. This happens to all of us.
The New Testament tells us that Esau was an immoral man, which is hardly surprising. It is just one more example of him acting on impulse.
Some time ago, a reporter was interviewing Ruth Graham, the wife of Billy Graham, and of course he wanted to ask questions about their marriage. “What was it like to be married to Billy Graham? Have you ever considered divorce?” asked the reporter. “No never,” said Ruth. “I’ve considered murder many times, but never divorce.”
Over a lifetime, all kinds of impulses will come to you, even if you are as saintly as Mrs. Graham. But if you live at the level of impulse, you will eventually take a plunge to disaster.
Can you identify one good impulse and one bad impulse you’ve had recently?