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A Good Trade

"Good things come to those who wait."  That saying recognizes the value of patience and implies that those who are impatient miss out on many good things.  A Scriptural version of this saying is found in Proverbs 21:5, which says, "The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty."  A good example of this principle is seen in the use of money.  A person who indulges on Starbucks coffee spends about $4 for each cup.  If rather than buying that coffee every working day a person invested that same amount of money and averaged an 8% return annually from age 25 to age 65, he would have over $290,000!  Now that is some expensive coffee!  This is the typical price of instant gratification.  Whenever a person indulges the moment for immediate pleasure, he usually pays for it in the future.

Being impatient and careless with money or other temporal possessions has serious consequences, but being careless with your soul will cost you eternally.  God has graciously and freely provided eternal life for all those who believe in Christ (John 3:16; Rom. 6:23), but that gift of life requires patience on the part of the believer.  The full manifestation of eternal life will not be realized until the resurrection of the dead and the final judgment of all souls (Matt. 25:31-46).  Only those who are faithful until death will be judged favorably to receive the eternal reward (Rev. 2:10).  Those who will not wait faithfully for the Lord will lose their souls and be separated from the Lord forever (2Thess. 1:9).  Nothing this world has to offer could possibly be worth such a terrible cost.

With this perspective, it is helpful for Christians to see each temptation as an opportunity to make a trade.  A temptation to sin is a proposition to exchange the hope of eternal life for a moment's indulgent pleasure.  Is this a good trade?  Of course not, but in the heat of the moment, we often do not see clearly.  For this reason, we must train our minds to constantly focus on the reward that awaits us if we are faithful.  Peter describes this reward as "an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you," and "a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (1Pet. 1:4-5).  The temporary pleasure of sin can never be worth giving up this reward.

On the other hand, trading a few moments of sinful indulgence for eternal life in the presence of God is an amazingly good value. Consider the example of Moses from Hebrews 11:24-26:

24By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 25choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.

Notice the key to Moses' success and his motivation: "he was looking to the reward." Moses was a man of faith, and to have faith one must believe that God "is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Heb. 11:6). Because Moses believed in God and the promised reward, he patiently endured ill-treatment and the "reproach of Christ" and gave up the treasures of Egypt.  It was not that Moses did not care for pleasure and treasure, but rather it was that he was willing to trade the immediate, temporary pleasures of sin for the delayed, eternal pleasure of being in God's presence for eternity.  Moses knew the truth of Psalm 16:11, in which David says to God, "You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever."

Dear Christians, Satan comes to barter with us every day, but we must not do business with him.  Just as he offered our Lord Jesus instant gratification in exchange for obedience to him (Matt. 4:1-11), so also he offers us immediate pleasures as a trade for our eternal souls.  Jesus turned Satan away with a strike of the word of God, and we must do the same. When Satan tempts us with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life (1John 2:16), let us remember God's word: "The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever" (1John 2:17).

If you are not a Christian, then a great opportunity is knocking at your door. The Lord Jesus offers you a chance to trade the passing pleasures of sin for eternal life in Him.  You will have to wait for the ultimate reward of this trade, but it will be well worth your patience.  In the meantime, your life will be greatly blessed, for "godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come" (1Tim. 4:8).  Won't you make this trade while the Lord's offer still stands?

Stacey E. Durham




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