We have been groomed for instant gratification, haven’t we? Want to get something from Amazon? It can be in your house in a few hours, or at most, two days. Want to deposit a check into your bank? Take a picture; it’s done. Want to find out the latest weather and news? Pick up your smartphone and you can have the information in seconds.
We have become used to identifying our needs and instantly getting them met.
But this becomes a problem when we begin to see our lives as Christians through the trained response of instant gratification. Why? Because the Christian life is in complete contrast to our culture of instant gratification. The Christian life is marked by delayed gratification.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. - Matthew 16:24
Or, in other words, “Let go of everything you want and come follow me, even in suffering or to death, because I AM WORTH IT.”
As Christians, we are called to lay down every earthly pleasure, every comfort, every quick fix, for the sake of following Jesus.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Did you catch that? Jesus was rejected, suffered, bled, died and endured, for what? The JOY SET BEFORE HIM. He was willing to lay down everything because he knew what was coming.
And what are we then told to do? Fix our eyes on Jesus and consider his endurance so that we do not grow weary or lose heart. We are to follow his example and willingly lay down everything - comfort, pleasure, safety and security - because of the joy set before us: eternity with Jesus. We no longer live for this life, but rather the glorious eternity that awaits us in heaven.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. - Colossians 3:1-4
So what things do we desire as Christian women?
- Raising our kids to know and follow Jesus their whole lives.
- Marriages that thrive, drive us forward in our faith, and allow us to multiply our impact on the kingdom of God.
- Faith lives that are strong and active.
- Boldness to share Jesus with others.
As Christian women, I truly believe we all want these things, but are we willing to delay the easy, earthly gratifications in order to fight for these things in our lives?
It’s easy to say we desire something, it's much harder to - day after day, week after week, year after year - lay down or lives, our desires and our comfort in order to work for things that have value for all eternity.
Raising up the next generation of Jesus followers is going to take a much bigger investment than one hour a week on Sunday and a prayer before each meal. It’s going to be an all out fight to disciple them to be lovers of the Word; to show them the great need of the Gospel in the world; to model and train them to be humble servants of others; to open their eyes to the true life in Jesus, not in living for our stuff or our temporary pleasure. In addition to this, it will take waring for their precious souls in prayer asking God to do what we cannot.
A thriving marriage built upon God cannot grow without time together WITH him. Foregoing TV, movies, and easy pastimes in order to spend time together as students of the Word takes hard work - day after day, year after year.
Do not grow weary.
A faith life that is strong and active takes time saturated in our own personal Bible study. Letting God’s truths wash over our sinful flesh, day after day, slowly transforms our hearts into ones that beat for HIM. It takes being willing to let God lead our lives for his purposes and glory, even into areas that are uncomfortable, scary and hard. It’s a daily desire to die to ourselves so that Christ may be more fully visible inside of us.
And then there is the lost around us, the broken multitudes on their way to eternity apart from God. No matter what terrible things our lives here on earth may hold, all those will fade the instant we see Jesus.
A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. - John 16:22
But for those who die without him, their suffering has only begun. These aren’t mere statistics, these are our neighbors, our relatives, the little children at the grocery store, the kids trapped in foster care, the athletes in the Olympics. These are real souls that need the good news that we hold. What comfort, pleasure and desire are we willing to forego now, so that they can join us for the pleasure that is coming in heaven?
Sisters, it’s time to throw off the cheap prize of temporary pleasure. No matter how much they promise, favorite TV shows, remodeled homes, updated wardrobes and fancy dates will never achieve for us the satisfied life we so desperately desire.
It’s time to lean our full lives into the truth of God’s Word and be willing to lay down everything for Jesus who is our treasure beyond compare.
This world has enough women living for themselves and the empty treasures this world offers. Do you know what is incredibly beautiful and mysterious? A woman who freely gives all of herself for a prize she knows is coming!
Delayed gratification isn’t missing out on all the fun everyone else gets to have. It’s skipping the McDonald's because we know a Thanksgiving feast is coming. It’s stopping chasing after the quickly fading mist we’ll never catch for the glorious paradise that awaits us for eternity.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. - 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. -Hebrews 10:19-25