March 14: Delayed Gratification

Read Psalm 37

The online encyclopedia Wikipedia defines delayed gratification as the ability to resist the temptation for an immediate reward and wait for a later reward.

It states, “Generally, delayed gratification is associated with resisting a smaller but more immediate reward in order to receive a larger or more enduring reward later.”

I was first introduced to the idea of delayed gratification as a teenager. Particularly in the context of saving sex for marriage. But really, doesn’t it apply to everything about the life Jesus called us to? The holy living He demands of us now and the hope of His amazing and eternal future in heaven with Him.

When we think of the Christian life, it makes sense to consider the truth of delayed gratification. Delighting in the Lord, holding fast to Him as our security. This will bring real life in the end. This is the step. The every next step is right there in front of us. Always.

Delight ourselves in the One who will always be there.

But it’s so easy to lose our focus, especially when it looks like He forgot about us.

“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” (v. 7).

Still, He will come through. He promised.

“The steps of good men are directed by the Lord. He delights in each step they take. If they fall, it isn’t fatal, for the Lord holds them with his hand” (vv. 23-24, TLB).

The choice to wait for what is best or settle for what might make us smile for a moment sometimes feels like an insignificant decision. Like when I spend my family’s out-to-eat budget on a few lunches out for myself and have nothing left for a nice dinner with my family.

Maybe it’s the choice to eat a granola bar instead of some strawberries. Or to laze around and watch TV instead of going for a walk. Those choices on their own are fine. But the same small choices over time can lead to big health problems.

The same is true spiritually. When we make the daily choice to seek God and delight in Him, even in small ways, eventually we find deep intimacy with our Father, true life the way He intended.