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The Importance of
Delayed Gratification

Beware fast-paced living!
It skips many crucial steps along the way.

By Ken Raggio

We live in an "instant" society.

It is common in our day to be able to get anything we want quickly. Since the invention of push-buttons, we have grown accustomed to instant gratification. We get instant meals from the microwave oven. Instant entertainment comes at the touch of a button. We don’t even have to "roll" the windows up in the car anymore. We can get instant cash at the ATM machine 24 hours a day, instant text messages on our cell phones, instant weather radar on the internet, and instant connections to everything in the world via computer.

We are forgetting the concepts of delayed gratification. We are forgetting that many great things take time - sometimes, a great amount of time - to accomplish.

Even God Himself has to have "long patience"

It is hard to persuade a person who gets almost everything he or she wants within a moment’s notice that the things of eternity and of the Kingdom of God only come through LONG PATIENCE.

The husbandman of the earth, God Himself, has to have LONG PATIENCE for the harvest. And He does.

Great purposes usually cannot be accomplished quickly.

The ancient purposes for which God originally created the earth have not yet come to pass. Things that we find in world news every day are amazingly accurate fulfillment of prophecies that were made 2,000 to 3,000 years ago. It took a LONG TIME for God to do so many of the things He PLANNED to do LONG AGO! Why did it take so long for God's plan to come to pass? God ordained for most things to come together "line upon line, and precept upon precept." Just like a great wall, it has to be built one brick or one stone at a time.

Natural and spiritual growth also occurs in small increments.

Our spiritual progress is gradual. It follows the same trends as natural progressions. Every step along our way is vital and critical to the next phase. If you skip around from place to place, growth will either be stunted or will cease. If you RUSH, RUSH, RUSH, RUSH, and do not TAKE THE TIME to live out each phase of your life fully, THERE WILL BE LOSSES, and there will be penalties.

Every phase of life contributes to another phase, so that if you fail to experience any important phase, every subsequent phase will be deficient. It may seem trite to say so, but if you are not at the right place at the right time, you cannot possibly experience a peak level of fulfillment, as you might have had if you HAD been in the right place at the right time. Rushing around all the time almost guarantees that you are not going to be sensitive to subtle clues and meticulous developments that God intended for your well-being.

Every step in our life is for a purpose, and missed steps are costly.

That is one of the reasons every person needs to attend church faithfully. By hearing the word of the LORD on a repetitive, on-going schedule, more building blocks are put into their proper place in your life.

There is no way to measure the critical and priceless value of each and every step along the way in your spiritual development. Do not underestimate the value of the sermon you missed last Sunday night. Do not tread lightly on, or discount the value of, the prayer time you missed. Do not dismiss Bible reading as insignificant.

You may think that you really know and understand the Bible. But I am certain that is not true for almost all of us. My personal experience as a minister who has preached over 5,000 sermons, and who has read the Bible dozens of times, and written Bible commentaries on every chapter in the Bible, is that WE NEVER KNOW EVERYTHING that God has given us to know. I am certain that it is the will of God for me to TAKE MY TIME and continue to focus on studying His word, and carefully implementing His will in my life.

That reasoning demands that I must "SLOW DOWN" and take my time living for God.

Skipping school means lessons are not learned.

If you continue rushing through your life, you will one day find yourself in a desperate condition, looking for the necessary resources to handle a difficult situation, but you missed that class! The very inspiration you could have received in church Wednesday night will not be there for you to draw on. The valuable words of encouragement and consolation you needed so urgently may not be there because you neglected to read your Bible and pray.

Fast-paced living may be the result of impatience and anxiety. It may be the result of living under the pressures and unfair expectations of others. You may be over-driving yourself to accomplish things that GOD DOES NOT EVEN WANT YOU TO ACCOMPLISH!

Unfolding Rose Let God unfold the rose.

You know that a rose-bud cannot be forced open without greatly damaging its petals. Nothing can unfold a rose but God and time. The same thing is true in your life. You must not believe that you can do things for God that are not even in HARMONY with God's timing!

Slow down, and move at God's pace!

God has a plan for every person. But tragically, most people NEVER learn what God's plans for their lives are. They make total shipwreck of themselves because they are constantly pushing toward illegitimate goals, and illegitimate schedules.

Then, when things go wrong, instead of blaming ourselves for not knowing and understanding the will of God for our lives, we look for somebody to blame for our failures.

After Peter and his companions stood on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus, Moses and Elijah, Peter excitedly declared to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias," Matthew 17:4. Of course, Jesus was not interested AT ALL in building three tabernacles on the mountain. We get grandiose ideas, and often pursue them for long periods of time, and they are not even in the will of God for us to do!

On another occasion, Jesus confided in His disciples the fact that "the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again," Mark 8:29. Peter became very upset at Jesus' statements, and began to rebuke Him.

Jesus then REBUKED Peter, and said, "Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men," Matthew 16:23.

Then Jesus taught one of the most important lessons in the Bible. You are not your own. "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" Matthew 16:24-26.

So all your fast-paced living is not going to substitute for knowing and doing the will of God. All your fast-paced living is going to do is create a massive pile of mistakes that you are eventually going to have to deal with. Sooner or later, fast-paced living is going to lead to failure.

Then, when we fail, we look for a scapegoat, someone to bear the guilt, or take the blame.

All too many people aim their poisoned disillusionment with life at the church, the preacher, or one of the saints. But when they do, they estrange themselves from the very agents God ordained to help reconcile them! We must not fall into that trap. It is rarely someone else’s fault when we fail. It is almost always the result of personal irresponsibility.

We should accept the blame for our own failures, and re-apply ourselves to the accomplishment of what is right.

A good test to apply to every failure is to ask ourselves, "Am I down because God failed me, or is it because I failed Him? Am I expecting something prematurely or on an untimely basis, or on an unprincipled basis? Am I pushing myself ahead of God's schedule? Am I so demanding or impatient that my thoughts and my expectations are in foolish conflict with God's GRADUAL way of doing things?"

It is folly to spend our precious lives throwing blame for our misery on others. Jesus Christ taught that every man stands or falls before his own master. That suggests sole responsibility. Paul taught that every man should bear his own burden. On Judgment day, blame-shifting and excuses will be rendered useless in the face of a God who knows all the facts. You made your own mistakes, and you will bear the judgment for them.

Right living is its own reward, and it is the best reward.

Learn right now to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Learn to stop driving yourself toward imperfect goals. Stop, and give yourself to understanding more about the will of God for your life, through Bible study, and prayer, and faithful attendance to the House of God.

Remember that the greatest things that could ever come of your life may take a LONG TIME to produce.

Reconcile yourself to that fact, and SLOW DOWN, and let God have His way with you.

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Ken Raggio

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