Coke vs. Pepsi.

Nike vs. Adidas.

UPS vs. FedEx.

Lyft vs. Uber.

Long before those modern day rivalries, there was Jacob vs. Esau.

Rivalries are part of humanity, and this one in particular stretched all the way to the beginning of Jacob and Esau. Jacob got his name (which affectionately meant “heel grabber”) when he came out of the womb grabbing Esau’s heel. That act and his name would be indicative of much of the rest of his life as he cheated, lied, and stole his way to the top. The final straw was stealing his father’s blessing from Esau. That set Esau off, and he was ready to kill Jacob. They parted ways and didn’t meet up until years later.

As I recently read through their reunion in Genesis 33, I was reminded of a few principles…


Let’s not fool ourselves. We will all act like Jacobs at some point, grabbing the heel of those around, stealing our way into a better position or cheating the system. When we’ve wronged someone, our posture should be like Jacob’s was in Genesis 33…

“…As he approached his brother, he bowed to the ground seven times before him.”

Genesis 33:3 NLT

Jacob could have sent soldiers, threats, and shows of strength ahead of him to intimidate his approaching brother, but he didn’t. When you’ve wronged someone, regardless of the consequences, humility and repentance are always the best posture.


Esau would have been justified in his anger and even vengeance on his deceitful brother. They hadn’t seen each other in years by the time they met in Genesis 33, and Jacob expected a fight. Esau responded differently, though…

“Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. And they both wept.”

Genesis 33:4 NLT

Like Jacob could have done, Esau could have sent soldiers and intimidating scare tactics. He could have put a hit out on Jacob and those around him would have understood and maybe even cheered him on, but he didn’t. When you’ve been wronged by someone, regardless of the consequences, humility and grace are always the best responses.

When I’m a Jacob, I want to be quick to repent and humble myself.

When I’m an Esau, I want to be quick to embrace and forgive.