In the box of chocolates, my very favourite as a child, was the purple-foiled one with a hazelnut surrounded by runny toffee. It was the best! Unfortunately it was everyone else’s favourite too, and on that day, my sister got there first. Awwww! We were in the back of my aunt’s car, and (probably just to annoy me) she left it sitting on the ledge as we were getting out for a walk. She said she’d rather eat it later. Being about 6 at the time, as I came to get out I had to pass the wonderful little purple parcel, and shame of shames, it found its way into my pocket!
As we walked along, I dawdled, and managed to undo the paper in my pocket and slip the delicious item into my mouth without being seen. Not being able to chew, I had to let it melt in my mouth, with some difficulties in disposing of the nut! Did it taste good? No! It was like sawdust in my mouth. I couldn’t wait to get rid of it!
We got back to the car, and of course the balloon went up! The chocolate was missing, and it was pretty obvious who had done it – there was only the two of us in the back of the car. Why hadn’t I thought of that before? Did I feel good, triumphant in getting that wonderful chocolate? What do you think? And every time I see that purple foil, the memory of that shame sneaks up on me!
In Genesis 25 v 27 – 34 we have the story of Jacob trading a bowl of stew to get Esau’s birthright. Neither of them behaved honourably. Esau in particular demonstrated how little he respected this honour. The last comment of the episode is telling. “So Esau despised his birthright.” I think this sentence carries a whole lot more meaning. Esau didn’t just despise the birthright, he also despised himself, and his brother. The proud hunter suddenly realized that he had demeaned himself and made himself vulnerable. His brother had taken advantage of the chink in his armour to gain the advantage. Self-esteem was at an all-time low. Hatred was setting in, the relationship between them in tatters. And the site of a bowl of lentil stew must have been wretched for them both.
Doing wrong makes us feel bad. We are hardwired for doing right. But thanks be to God for Jesus, who has made a way for us to be forgiven. We may still remember our misdeeds, but there is a way for them to be wiped clean. We can look back with regret, but not with that terrible damaging remorse that hates itself and all connected with the event. Forgiveness through the precious death of Jesus brings life, health, relationship and self-esteem. How do people manage without knowing it?