Sunday, February 17, 2013

Immediate Satisfaction (Under Pressure)

He paced the hall, desperate for a drink. He had no money for a bottle. But oh how he wanted to go buy one. He pulled out his checkbook and decided one bounced check wouldn't make that big of a difference.

She saw the dress sitting in the store window, mocking her. She knew she should be saving her money - it was meant to go towards her college education. But oh how nice that dress would look on her. And it wasn't that expensive. She'd worry about the college fund later.

He watched the gorgeous red-head with the long legs as she brought him his drink and slipped him a piece of paper with her number on it. His wife was at home, but she'd been so distant lately, not wanting him to touch her. He figured his wife would never have to find out about the leggy ginger as he pulled out his phone.

She cried softly in her bed, her body covered in fresh bruises, and prayed to the Devil, offering her soul in exchange for the beatings to stop. Praying to God hadn't worked, so this was her last resort.

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In Genesis 25:27-34, we learn the story of how Jacob conned Esau out of his birthright. Esau, famished, begged Jacob for some stew. Jacob agreed to give it to him, provided Esau swore to give up his birthright. Back then (and in some cultures still today), birthright was incredibly important. It was generally a right held for the eldest son, and offered him a greater inheritance and the honor of one day being the leader of the family. Esau gave up these rights for food. He chose immediate satisfaction over lasting benefits.

Like Esau, all the characters in the above scenarios also chose immediate satisfaction over lasting benefits. They chose to satisfy an addiction over the benefits of having money to pay bills and having a healthy lifestyle. They chose material things over the benefits of an education. They chose to give in to the pressure of lust instead of keeping the sanctity of marriage. They chose their own safety and life over an eternity in Heaven.

We all face temptations like this. We all feel the pressure to choose immediate satisfaction. And now days, it is even easier for us to achieve that immediate satisfaction. We want to purchase something frivolous? We can order it online, charge it to our credit cards, and voila! Immediate gratification. We feel the pressure to be with someone physically? Or for that physical release? Why bother waiting for the spouse to be in the mood. We can go online and quickly and easily find any number of people willing to help us out; or we can find any sort of material to help us out.

This age of excessive technology makes sin so much closer to our fingertips - makes it so much easier to get that instant satisfaction. One problem with it being so easy, so within reach - we don't have time to think about the consequences of our actions. If you didn't have a credit card, or access to an online store, you'd have to actually leave your house... this trip to the necessary store could give you those few extra minutes you need to realize that you're putting your finances in jeopardy for something you don't need. You'd have that time to sit back and pray for strength to not give in to the need for instant gratification.

Of course, we can't place the blame on this technology. Yes, it makes it easier for us to sin, but it is still our choice. It is still our decision to grab hold of instant satisfaction rather than pray, reach for, and work towards, lasting benefits.

But it is so easy to give in to these pressures. We exaggerate our needs, as Esau did. Esau stated he was dying from being so hungry. Indeed, he was not. He exaggerated his need, which rationalized his decision to give up his birthright. And as humans, when under pressure, we are so good at rationalizing things. The reasons which would keep us from cheating on our spouse, for example - it would hurt the spouse, it would hurt the person we'd be taking to our bed, we'd be hurting ourself... we rationalize all this away. The spouse will never know. The person we're having sex with wants it as well, and therefore there is no injury. And personally? We want it as well, and so long as it stays a secret, no one knows and therefore there is no personal consequence. See... rationalized. We can now receive that immediate satisfaction.

Of course, thinking realistically about this, we realize that we do indeed hurt not only everyone involved, but God as well. We sin against God by abandoning or ignoring our marriage vows. But under pressure, we don't think of this. We see only immediate satisfaction and don't concern ourselves with the lasting benefits.

Through our faith in God, and our desire to do his will and our acceptance of him and his grace, we can find the strength to fight these pressures. With help from God, we can face this pressure, and recognize that the pressure and need isn't as great as we had exaggerated. We can look beyond immediate satisfaction and look towards lasting benefits.

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