Sunday, February 19, 2012

Delayed Gratification

Delayed Gratification

Feb 20, 2012

Galatians 5:16 "So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh."

The Lord programmed certain primal instincts into the human brain to ensure the species would survive. For instance, when a human is too cold, he will do anything and everything to get warm (find a heat source, find shelter, put on additional clothing). When a human is hungry he is programmed to search for food. The severity of the hunger determines the passion with which a person will pursue food. It is the human nature to satisfy the needs of the flesh; it ensures survival. We are all programmed in this manner, to take care of our needs first and foremost. This has served the human race well for thousands of years, as evident by an ever growing population. This passion to serve the flesh, however, does have a point of diminishing returns. 

There can come a point in searching for food when the line of excess has been crossed. In a sinless world, if we are hungry, we search for enough food to satisfy the hunger pangs and we stop eating. The system works perfectly, that is, until we cannot stop eating despite having satiated the appetite. We all know what it feels like to over-eat. We live in a world where getting food is not as difficult as it once was. If you have easy access to the technology required for reading this devotional, then you probably have just as easy access to a food source. It is not a chore then, to get food the moment you are hungry. This results in instant gratification for the body's needs. Wow, what a great scenario: we get hungry and we find food almost instantly. The problem is, we don't stop eating when we are full. This scenario applies to so many areas of our lives, not just our physical appetite for food. Because we have a sinful nature, we are prone to seek over-gratification. Greed, lust, and gluttony coupled with instant gratification is a bad combination.

There is no delayed gratification anymore in our lives. We are able to gratify our fleshly desires almost instantly, whatever feels good. Our society is advanced enough to overcome almost every difficulty to human life. This ability to overcome difficult can be a good thing if we are cold and in jeopardy of hypothermia. This is a good thing if we are parched and in need of a life-saving spring of water. But it is not a good thing if we live every moment of our lives this way, constantly seeking ways to satisfy all the desires of our sinful flesh. When the Lord created humans, He programmed primal instincts into us, just as He did all the other animals. However, to humans, the Lord also gave intellect, the ability to reason beyond our primal instincts. There is problem, then when we are used to gratifying the flesh instantly in every area of our lives but must show restraint when it comes to the point of excess or areas that could lead us into sin. This difficulty in restraint and our ever increasing ability to make things instant has lead to the moral decline in the human species. The Bible recommends mastery over striving to always satisfy the flesh instantly. 

While I am not an expert in being sinless, I do know that if I instantly gratify myself in every area of my life, I am more prone to sin. The opposite is true as well; the more I delay the gratification of my needs, showing restraint, the less likely I am to fall into sin. Wise married couples have found this to be true when they were exploring sexuality at a young age. Obese people have found this to be true over time. Indebted people have found this to be true in their finances. The list could go on for all those with regret, suggesting that restraint could have saved so much heart-ache in life.

The Bible says that the only antidote for the inability to show restraint is to live life in the Spirit. This means not living according to what the flesh wants or needs, but having a rational approach to submitting ourselves to the Lord and allowing His Spirit to reign in our hearts and minds. It takes a conscious effort to submit ourselves to the Lord in all areas of our lives. He has promised that this will keep us from falling into the temptations that lead to sin. It takes less effort to submit ourselves to the Lord's Spirit BEFORE we get to the point of having to show restraint. Live a life submitted to the Spirit and instant gratification will not be an issue. As it turns out, delayed gratification is actually a good habit to put into practice. 

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Rom 13:14, Eph 2:3

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