“Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” (Romans 9:13, NIV 1984).
My Musings – People usually stumble over this verse because of the word hated. It seems overly harsh, especially from a loving God. But the word, as it is used in this verse, does not have the same connotation that we usually associate with hate (strong dislike or hostility). Rather, it simply meant that God did not show him favor (even though the first born carries a lot significance in the Bible). This is expounded upon a couple verses later — “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” (Romans 9:15, NIV 1984). Such is the prerogative of God, who owes no one mercy or compassion.
But He does to some. And to me, this is the real stumbling point of the above text — why Jacob? He was a conniver and a deceiver. Why would God “love” (show favor through mercy and compassion) to Jacob over Esau? Why would He choose a murderer (Moses)? The least from the least of a clan (Gideon)? The youngest (David) over the eldest? A denier (Peter)? A persecutor (Saul/Paul)? A doubter (Thomas)? A zealot (James)? A tax collector (Matthew)? Me? You? Not for any innate merit. But because they were teachable and usable (in the positive sense). People with a past or people from humble backgrounds are often better servant-disciple candidates than those with impressive backgrounds and laudable pasts.
My Advice – Be teachable. Be usable and useful.