You cannot deny that we live in an instant gratification age. We drive up to get our food so we don’t have burn off any pre fry consumption calories. We do our banking through a tube that shoots money at us with an impersonal whoosh. Just add water describes the main ingredient in much of our cooking. Instant mashed potatoes and rice are microwaving as we dump powdered drink mix into a pitcher filled with ice from the refrigerator door front so we do not have to bother opening the freezer. We get impatient and tip less if our glass is not filled immediately at a restaurant and heaven forbid if there is not a gas pump open and we have to wait, oh let’s say, 2 more minute to fill our tanks. Some big box stores even declare that they will open a new cash register if a third person is waiting in line. Are we really that impatient to get home and try out that instant hair coloring you just bought?
Our personal relationships and communication have fallen into the instant gratification pattern as well. We cannot resist talking on cell phones or texting while driving because the most recent gossip cannot wait for the next chance pull over. How many of you update your social networking pages at work because you are sure the world cannot wait to read what you had for lunch? Conversations with many people are awkward because they are beginning to finish your sentences instead of waiting to see what you actually have to say for yourselves. This impatience overflows as we hold our own agendas so dear it becomes priority above all else to make it home to see our favorite show on TV even though we have TIVO. “We want what we want and we want it now” could be the emerging mantra of our culture.
As a pastor I witness this attitude seeping over into people’s spiritual lives as well. We want to know God’s will for our lives and we want to know it now. There has always been this battle between what God desires for us and what the culture dictates to be the norm. Patience we are told is a virtue but is often too little displayed. But in Galatians 5 isn’t patience a trait displayed by one who has God’s spirit just like love, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? Patience seems most often to be the least valued of the list. Maybe God has enough of His own patience so He doesn’t really need ours.
I love the story of Simeon worshipping at the temple when the doting parents of Jesus bring him to be circumcised at eight days old. This elderly man had been promised by God that he would not die until he saw the long awaited Messiah, the Immanuel, God with us in the flesh. Simeon daily lived his life righteous and committed to God simply because of a personal promise from God himself. And when this young family enters the temple God the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit that conceived this very baby, exclaims in the old man’s heart “there He is!” Simeon cradles this baby, lifts him up and declares “sovereign Lord, as you have promised!” This man is an example for us all, anything God has promised will come true – live righteous for God day to day and He will certainly make good on what He says. I think the Hebrew writer was speaking about people such as Simeon when he declares “We do not want to become lazy, but to imitate those through faith and patience inherit what has been promised” (Hebrews 6:12)
It’s commendable to be a good steward of time but then how is our saved time invested? We cannot hold our agendas so tightly that we miss seeing God’s workmanship and His people in need around us. It is easy to focus on the instant and forget that we are actually designed for eternity. This is why God is being patient; he wants us all to make the choice to be with Him forever. In 2 Peter 3:9 we read “The Lord is not slow keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone wanting to come to repentance.”
People of God – we need to be models of patience. We need to be patient with people, giving second chances and forgiving when wronged. We may need to invest time sharing the Gospel lovingly and patiently with others time and time again with Scripture, prayer and service. Stick with it, be patient because God has promised to work through us using our perseverance and our faith. I would love to see all of my friends and family in heaven. Simeon waited a long time until his promise from God was fulfilled on the first Christmas. Let’s help others realize eternal gratification will be better than instant gratification in every way.
This daily devotion is written by John Key