Christian faith looks ahead and sees as clearly as is right now in front of your face. Because of taking such a long view of life, the mature believer in Jesus is able to set aside temporary pleasure in order to attain a future hope. Today’s New Testament lesson says that “after Moses grew up, his faith made him refuse to be called the king’s son. He chose to be mistreated with God’s people instead of having the good time that sin could bring for a little while. Moses knew that the treasures of Egypt were not as wonderful as what he would receive from suffering for the Messiah, and he looked forward to his reward.”
It is an understatement to say that our contemporary society assumes practicing instant gratification. We want to feel good, and we want it now. Impulse control may just be one of the best life skills that kids (and adults!) need to learn today. A recent Psychology Today article effectively demonstrates through some classic and current research that “one of the most effective ways to distract ourselves from a tempting pleasure we don’t want to indulge is by focusing on another pleasure.”
For the Christian who desires to follow Jesus in all things, looking ahead to a future heavenly reward which will be shared along with all God’s people needs to be kept at the forefront of our thinking. If we only think about today, there is very little resource for responding to the temptations and fluctuations of life. But if we will put some energy into clarifying and embracing our most cherished values, we will then let those values inform everything we do, or not do. In the light of eternity, suffering a bit now is nothing compared to what Christ has in store for his people.
Eternal God, I believe you will be there at the end of the age distributing reward to those who have faithfully served you. Help me, by means of your Holy Spirit, to resist temptation, live for Jesus, and forsake the cultural values all around me so that I live strong for you. Amen.