BE YOURSELF, EVERYONE ELSE IS TAKEN
by Wayne Lawson
Genesis 27:19-24 & 1 Samuel 17:37-50
I want to spend a few minutes this morning building this message about the importance of being you. As we continue to grow this ministry and define various leadership roles, I believe that it will be important for us to understand the value of simply being yourself and not focus upon anyone else, or attempt to be something that we are not. I challenge us this morning to understand the gifting that God has placed in you and operate in your gifting, simply be yourself, everyone else is taken. We run into many problems not only in Church but also in life in general when we never become comfortable with whom we are, and the great value we have to offer. We each have a treasure hidden in our lives that we take for granted and if we aren’t careful, we allow the enemy to rob us of the very thing God has entrusted to us. We have then, in essence, under-priced God’s precious gift to us.
I believe that God is calling us to take an assessment today and see if we have placed too low a price on the gifting that God has provided for us as Christians. Perhaps there is even a second question here – Have you short-changed your gift by trying to be like someone else? I have often heard over the years many Christians say they don’t have a gift or unsure as to the gift they have and how to operate in it. Let’s try to address all of these issues this morning.
Let’s run over and visit our initial text read in our hearing. As writer Frederick Beuchner pointed out in The Magnificent Defeat, “This was not a blessing in our sense of the word, a vague expression of goodwill that we might use when someone is going on a journey and we say, ‘God bless you.’ For Jacob the blessing is a word of great power. It conveys the very energy and vitality of the blesser’s soul into the one blessed. Just like Elijah when he was carried into heaven by chariots of fire. As he was taken up he dropped his mantle on his successor by the name of Elisha who then received a Double Portion of the Anointing. From that point Elisha would go out and do extraordinary things for God. So, this final blessing by Isaac of his son is to be the most powerful of all blessings. Let us also remember that once it is given it can never be taken back.
There was a rivalry between these twin brothers. The boys mother, Rebecca, would tell you it could be traced back right to the womb. When she was pregnant with them it was like WWF wrestling match going on inside her. It was so intense that she feared for her life and prayed to God about it. God said to her: “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples born of you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the elder shall serve the younger.” In other words, God was pronouncing blessing upon the youngest child in her womb. Now, that’s not the way it works in Hebrew culture – everyone knows that the first born is the preferred child, not the youngest! But God decreed it would be otherwise and Rebecca heard it.
In our text, we find the twins father, Isaac is advanced or old in age and his eyes have begun to dim. Old Man Isaac waits now for his eldest son, Esau, to appear. After awhile, he hears someone enter the tent and say, ‘my father’. “Who are you, my son?” The boy Jacob lies and says that he is Esau. He says it boldly. Isaac almost believes, but not completely. The weak-eyed father asks, ‘Are you really my son, Esau?’ The boy Jacob lies a second time. In the silence of that black, goatskin tent, Isaac reaches out both of his arms and says, ‘Come near and kiss me, my son.’ Let’s identify the first problem – Jacob’s hands are smooth. His brother’s hands are hairy. But the boys’ mother Rebecca is in on the whole thing with Jacob. She has covered the backs of Jacob’s hands with the hair of animals. Jacob stretches his hands into Isaac’s and Isaac is fully deceived. He blesses him saying, ‘See, the smell of my son is the smell of a field which the Lord has blessed.’ Then Isaac gave Jacob the great blessing. Jacob is now the recipient of the blessing that belongs to his brother and takes advantage of his own father’s blindness. Right here he has broken three of the Ten Commandments – “You shall not steal.” “You shall honor your father and mother,” “You shall not bear false witness.” Yes, I agree with you studious Bible readers, there was a fourth commandment violated as well – the one against coveting – however, this one had gone by the wayside years before.
Lest we be too harsh on Jacob, I have heard many Bible teachers and others claim that Jacob was a thief. But the Bible in the New Testament – HEBREWS 12:16 tells us plainly that Esau “FOR ONE MORSEL OF MEAT SOLD HIS BIRTHRIGHT” and in the Old Testament record GENESIS 25: 29-34 it states clearly that he “SOLD HIS BIRTHRIGHT UNTO JACOB” and bound the sale with an oath, for “ESAU DESPISED HIS BIRTHRIGHT.” The real Jacob is not the schemer – trickster nor is he perfect. Rather it is the journey of a man to become his best self. Jacob is our patriarch because of his journey, not despite it. When we consider our lot in life or our current position or status it is because of our Journey, not Despite it. Jacob is not many figures, but one – one with an intricate and complex character, but one, nonetheless. For us to understand who we are, we must understand Jacob’s struggle and how important it is that we can all identify with it.
• We all struggle with life choices
• We all regret some of the choices we have made
• We have all been on a journey, away from the name we feel we sometimes deserve, and towards the name we wish to deserve
• Inside each of us is Israel: the one who struggles with God
As did Jacob, we too, can become Israel if we grow and learn from our mistakes, and journey to be our best selves
So we see in Jacob a tragic flaw from the offset. He believed if he was going to get ahead in this life he was going to have to hustle and strive and be knifing – even if it meant hustling his own brother. And the strange irony of it all is that Jacob didn’t need to hustle. God had already promised him this blessing. While he was still in the womb God proclaimed to Rebeccah that the younger one would be the blessed one. And when you have God’s blessing what more do you need? The problem was that Jacob didn’t believe it – even though he must have heard it many times from his mother while working alongside her, but he still didn’t believe it.
• All he could see was Esau – the strong one
• All he could see was Esau — the popular one
• All he could see was Esau — the first born
• All he could see was Esau — the skilled hunter
• All he could see was Esau — the preferred one of his father and the rest of the world
• He figured the only way he’d ever be blessed would be to steal it from Esau
I wonder how many of us are like Jacob, always watching somebody else, coveting their gift in spite of the gift God has given us. Esau is pictured as a self-centered, irresponsible man, caring far more for sports than for the responsibilities that come with being an adult. He did not want to be saddled with the responsibility of family affairs and business. Jacob was the exact opposite of Esau. Jacob was a mature, quiet, settled man who looked after the affairs and responsibilities of the family. He stayed right with the tents, the workers, herds, and affairs of the family. It is unfortunate that they were not able to embrace their differences and work together. This is how it is within the church at times. If we are not careful we begin to watch what everybody else is doing and then desire to be like them instead of embracing what God has given us. I am always concerned when I travel and visit smaller churches and they have 50 members and 20 of them are in the pulpit. It is usually a clear indication of a church that does not understand the importance of embracing the various giftings that operate within each of us – I like to encourage them to be yourself, everyone else is taken.
Being who you are is the most natural thing there is and takes less effort than trying to be someone that you are not. I may never preach like T.D. Jakes, but that is okay, I am not T.D. Jakes, I may never teach like Creflo Dollar, but that’s okay, I am not Creflo Dollar. I many never speak before tens of thousands like Billy Graham, but that is okay, I am not Billy Graham. All too often, in the church, we spend too much time trying to be like somebody else. I am glad I am who I am, and there is no one else just like me.
Jacob wasted 20 years of his life hiding from his brother – simply because he wanted to be like his brother. In spite of what God had already promised him while he was still in the womb, Jacob could not take his eyes off of being like his brother. It would ultimately cost him years of frustration. He would never see his mother alive again, not even able to attend her funeral in an attempt to add closure. You see my brothers and sisters; it is not worth it in the long run – be yourself, everyone else is taken.
David understood this at a very early age. When we consider the life of King David, we can really understand the value of Being Yourself. David would become the most loved and respected King that ruled over God’s people. Here it is thousands of years later and we are still talking about his life and what he accomplished. Unlike Jacob, David had more than just one brother to contend with. David was the eighth and youngest son of Jesse from the kingly tribe of Judah.
The biblical King David of Israel was known for his diverse skills as both a warrior and a writer of psalms. In his 40 years as ruler, between approximately 1010 and 970 B.C.E., he united the people of Israel, led them to victory in battle, conquered land and paved the way for his son, Solomon, to build the Holy Temple. But most of us really don’t understand what it was that bought David before King Saul. We don’t know what his gifting was that moved him to become the most prominent King in history. His first interaction with Saul came when the king was looking for someone to play music for him, and the king’s attendant summoned the skilled David to play for him. Saul was pleased with David and kept him in his service as a musician.
It was not his courage or his leadership that bought him before the King. David was gifted as a skilled musician. Apparently someone had heard David play various instruments and it was that Gift that bought him before the King. Could you imagine if David had been more concerned about trying to be like his brothers. David appreciated what God had placed in him. My brothers and sisters, I really think that is key – we must learn how to appreciate what God has imparted unto us. When we learn how to appreciate our gift, it is only then that God will be able to move us into another realm – just be yourself, everyone else is taken. We all know that David would come to prominence because of the battle that was brewing between the Israelites and the Philistines. There was a giant in the land by the name of Goliath. The Philistine Army was the most feared of any in the Ancient Near East. Their superior armaments during the middle of the eleventh century, BCE, enabled them to threaten Judea. They had already colonized areas along the coastline. So, here we have Goliath the Philistine of Gath, a giant, who is nine feet tall and a champion warrior. No one in the army of Israel really wants to face up to such a giant. The entire Israelite army, including King Saul, was filled full of fear and felt defeated before they even considered facing such a giant. It didn’t help matters much when Goliath took advantage of every opportunity to verbally insult them and the LORD God. What were they to do?
David the musician shows up and stands before King Saul. After a conversation King Saul sends this boy David out to fight against the giant. He then attempts to equip David for his encounter with the giant. Saul clothes David with his own armor. He puts a bronze helmet on David’s head and clothes David with his own big coat of mail. David straps Saul’s sword over the armor. Then David tries to take a step. He quickly realizes that he had not earned any of that equipment. He quickly remembers the Gift that he has – the gift beyond being a Musician. David remembers that he is good at throwing rocks. That is the gift that David had which ultimately would bring him before the King and set him on the path of his destiny. We know the rest of the story; he would be victorious over the giant.
What would cause David to walk in his Destiny is the fact that he understood his gift was Throwing Rocks. What a strange gift to have. We must identify the Gift that God has given us and understand no matter how big or small we think that gifting is — to simply operate in it. We read in PROVERBS 18:16 A MAN’S GIFT MAKETH ROOM FOR HIM, AND BRINGETH HIM BEFORE GREAT MEN. This strange gift of throwing rocks would usher David into his destiny – it would bring him face to face before King Saul because he was Gifted at Throwing Rocks. I don’t know about you but I am glad today that David was comfortable with who he was, he understood how important it was to be yourself, everyone else is taken.
• If my gift is throwing rocks – I’ll throw Rocks in Jesus name
• If my gift is Playing Instruments – I’ll play in Jesus name
• If my gift is serving on the Usher Board – I’ll serve in Jesus name
Whatever my gift is, I’ll wait, because God promised my gift will make room for me and take me to great places.
Paul understood this when he talked and counseled with a young preacher by the name of Timothy. Paul would go on to tell Timothy that he would grow to be a great preacher one day and then gave him sound advise according to I TIMOTHY 4:14 NEGLECT NOT THE GIFT THAT IS IN THEE, WHICH WAS GIVEN THEE BY PROPHECY, WITH THE LAYING ON OF HANDS OF THE PRESBYTERY.
— Your gift will take you to places you never dreamed
— Your gift will elevate you in due season
— Don’t neglect the gift that God has given you
— Don’t set your sight on what others have and are doing
— Allow God to continue to grow the gift that He has placed with you