When you think about someone you know only modestly well, what is the first thing you think about them? Is it their looks, the sound of their voice, or maybe something they have done?
What stood out to the writer of Genesis 36 about Esau, was that he had married Canaanite women. His grandfather Abraham had gone to great lengths to ensure that Isaac his father had a wife from their own kindred. Isaac in his turn had sent Esau’s brother Jacob off back to the same family stock to find himself a wife. But Esau, what had he done? Gone and married Canaanite women. It was not a well-received decision.
For all that, God still honoured the promise that he had made to grandfather Abraham, that many nations would come from his offspring; and Esau had a fine family, many of whom became chiefs and even kings. And they were well blessed in aquisitions – they had so much stuff they had to spread out to the hill country of Seir.
But what do we remember about Esau? Was it that he was a wealthy man? Was it that he very graciously forgave his brother? Was it that he was the patriarch of a very successful dynasty? What we probably remember most was how he got that nickname ‘Edom’ – ‘Red’ – by trading his birthright for a bowl of lentil stew.
So if there are people in your acquaintance that you remember for something not so good, maybe you need to forgive them, and choose to replace that thought with something kindlier.
And what about ourselves? What do people remember about me? Well I can’t do much about things that have happened in the past, but I can change the future. I can apologise for things I have done that have hurt others; I can make good memories by serving out plenty of kindness; and I can pray for wisdom in my conduct and relationships.
But there are some people who stand out in my memory for one thing in particular – those who really shine the love of God, who exhibit a close walk with him, and whose lives demonstrate what Christian living is all about. And I have to say, most of them have not had easy lives. If I could choose what I am remembered for, I’d like it to be something like that. That gives me a lot to work towards!