Delayed Gratification

Romans 16:18-19 – For such persons [evil people] do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. 

Romans 8:5 – For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  

Another category Paul describes here, in addition to wise and evil people, is foolish people. If a wise person was a shepherd and an evil person was a wolf, the foolish person would be the sheep.

Foolish people often make excuses, not plans. You have two options in life – you can make excuses about why you didn’t fix something, or you can make plans to fix it. This ultimately turns foolish people into the victim in every scenario so they can avoid making a plan. Right now, this is what we call America. No one has a plan to fix many of our problems, but we all have excuses to turn ourselves into the victims.

The lack of understanding of delayed gratification often gets foolish people into trouble. Galatians 6 says a man reaps what he sows, and a foolish person has a hard time grasping this. If you want to retire, you’d better start putting money in your retirement account. If you want to learn your Bible, you’d better start reading it today so you can teach it tomorrow. If you want to have a good marriage, you’d better start sowing good habits today so you can be together in 50 years. You must sow today so you can reap tomorrow.

Foolish people do not get the idea of cause/effect, reap/sow, or delayed gratification. These are the people who make a budget but, as soon as they see something they want, the “Buy Now” button seems so easy to click. They buy things with money they don’t have and then find themselves as the borrower who is slave to the lender. So, then they vote for a socialist to send them a $1400 check. Hypothetically, of course.

Have you ever noticed that foolish, irresponsible people seem to find overly responsible people to be friends with, date, or get married to? Foolish people cry “Help!” and a responsible person comes to the rescue because they see it as a ministry. It’s actually co-dependency. The responsible person is actually denying the foolish person from having to learn responsibility.

We do this all the time as parents. We say “Well, I can’t let him fail in the third grade.” Well, I’d say that now is a better time than in 20 years with a mortgage and three kids when he gets fired from his job because he never learned to be responsible.

A wise person ultimately learns to think through consequences and learns the principle of cause and effect. If you want something, save money for it. If you want to build something, build it slow over time. If you want to be healthy tomorrow, pay attention to what you eat and drink today. Start this in the little things and, over time, it will grow into great wisdom and success in your life.

Do you need to get better at planting now so you can reap later? Take a small step in one area of your life where you can hopefully create a habit for a lifetime.  

To find the free Romans 12-16 digital study guide for individuals and small groups, hear Pastor Mark’s entire sermon series on Romans, or find a free mountain of Bible teaching visit or download the Real Faith app.

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