Giving all to God
For reading & meditation - Proverbs 8
"Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold." (v.10)
Christians who struggle with the concept of deferred satisfaction ought to consider the contestants who prepare for such things as sports competitions - especially the Olympic Games. Young men and women push themselves almost beyond endurance in order to gain a prize for themselves, their club or their country. I know that all the groaning and gasping that goes on as they train is not unmitigated pleasure. Why are they doing it? They are demonstrating the principle of deferred satisfaction. They are willing to ensure suffering now in order to win in the future. The pressure, the denial of legitimate pleasures, the strong self-discipline, the rigorous training, are all outweighed by the hope of winning. The idea of deferred satisfaction is not a uniquely Christian idea. It has been recognized by reflective people throughout history. Plato talks about it, and so does Socrates - and they lived more than two thousand years ago. Greek philosophy talks about the control of the passions by self-discipline and encourages the development of virtue by self-denial. Christianity teaches that God has come to this world in the person of His Son in order to set up a rescue mission to save us from an everlasting hell. We are saved, but not that we might sit back and indulge ourselves in the thought. We are saved to serve. If non-Christians can deny themselves present satisfaction for future gains and go to such lengths to win a prize, how much more ought we, who serve the risen Christ? Dare we stand by and watch them do for gold what we are not prepared to do for God?
Father, Your school is strict but the end is redemption. Your instructions, however hard and uncompromising, are in the end my salvation. Help me to see the end from the beginning and to use all my powers in reaching for the goal. Amen.
For Further Study
1. What is implicit in the calling to be a disciple?
2. Read through Proverbs and see how many times the word "discipline" is used.