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Immediate vs. Delayed Gratification

Friday, April 5, 2024

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“A man who works for the immediate present and its immediate rewards is nothing but a fool.” – Wilbur Wright, inventor of the modern airplane

Having served in prison ministry for 35 years, I think I know why so many men wind up behind bars… some of them multiple times. Aside from inheriting a sin nature from Adam and – in far too many cases – lacking a positive male role model in their lives, most inmates struggle with the concept of delayed gratification.

They see something they want, but they aren’t willing to work hard enough to earn, achieve, or purchase it. And so, they wind up taking it illegally. Inevitably, they are caught and have to serve time as a result of their impatience and lack of discipline.

The same goes with illegal drugs. Eighty percent of inmates are incarcerated for drug-related crimes. They either want an immediate high… commit a crime under the influence of those drugs… or commit a crime to get enough money to buy more drugs and get high again. It’s a vicious cycle based on an insatiable craving for instant gratification.

For that same reason, credit card debt is at an all-time high, up 47% in just the past three years. People see an ad in a magazine or a commercial on TV… and convince themselves that they can’t possibly live without that product or service. Rather than saving up their money and paying for the item in cash, they just “pull out the plastic” and end up paying interest rates as high as 28%... multiplying many times over the original purchase price.

The desire for instant gratification is as old as man himself. Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and were cast out of the Garden of Eden as a result. And Ammon, one of King David’s sons, instead of asking his father for his half-sister Tamar’s hand in marriage, chose to rape her instead. That shameful act resulted in his eventual death at the hands of his brother Absalom’s servants.

Remember, my friend, that all good things come to one who waits (or who works hard to purchase, achieve, or earn it!)

“When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” James 1:13-15 (NIV)

- Rev. Dale M. Glading, President

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