Sacrificing The Future For Pleasures Of The Present
September 1, 1998 Issue
by Rick Martin

One of the most tragic stories found in the Bible is that of Esau and Jacob. Esau was an outdoorsman who liked to get out in the woods and hunt. After one particular hunting trip, he returned home and found his brother Jacob putting the finishing touches on a pot of stew. Esau was extremely hungry, so hungry he thought he would die. He began to plead with his brother to give him some stew. Jacob saw great possibilities here and he seized the moment and required Esau's birthright in exchange for a bowl of stew. Esau agreed to this exchange and relinquished his blessed privilege for a simple bowl of ordinary stew.

We may think how could anyone be so foolish? However, each time we give in to the tempting whim of the moment, we too are sacrificing the future for the pleasures of the present. Many sacrifice the future for the pleasure of the present. This is done when people constantly think of themselves and their desires. Some never think about God and the higher values of life. The Bible tells us there will be people who love pleasure more than God. (II Tim. 3 :4) "Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God." These people mind only earthly things (Phil 3 :19), "Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things."

We sacrifice our future when we focus on things that are temporal rather than eternal. There are certain things that should be more important to us than anything else and these are the things that are eternal. The things of this world soon fade away. The house that we desperately want will one day crumble. The automobile that we desire will become out-dated and give way to rust. We need to view everything in light of eternity. Any decisions made, money spent or love invested, should be with a view to eternal values. Spiritual things are the things that will last forever (II Cor. 4:18), "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." Temporal things will not last, so why constantly worry about these things? The important thing is to judge things by the eternal standard of God's Word. Involvement with temporal things brings no lasting satisfaction, and the pleasures they offer are but for a moment. Eternal things will bring everlasting joy and satisfaction. When we focus on temporal things we are sacrificing our future.

We sacrifice the future when we have little respect for spiritual things. God, His Word and His ways demand devotion and worship. When things of the world are allowed to have preeminence over God, we are cultivating the right condition for yielding to wrong desires.

The "fear of God" was a strong motivation for obedience in both the Old and New Testaments. This does not imply horror, but rather respect. When we fear God, we give Him the glory due His name. We love the things He loves and hate the things He hates. When we stand in reverence of God we have a relationship that centers around pleasing and honoring Him in all our decisions and actions. Reverence of God is a strong defense against the appealing, but deceiving arguments of the Devil. Reverence of God is measured by the amount of time and attention given to God through commitment to His Word, His people and His commandments. We show our reverence of God by being committed to Him and to His cause. God must be preeminent and things of the world should hold no allurement or charms.

We sacrifice our future when we make decisions without God's guidance. When we try to live out our lives using our own strength instead of Gods we are destined to fall victim to Satan. When we do not understand that Christ is to be our life and that He is sufficient, we are more susceptible to times of despair and discouragement. These down times can be breeding grounds for hasty and carnal decisions. God and Christ can be our strength if we will let Them. We must know Them, and the way to do this is to have a knowledge of the Word. Jesus was able to overcome the Tempter by relying on the Word. Christians must turn to the Word to resist the lure of the present.

We sacrifice our future when we fail to consider the consequences of our actions. There is a cause and an effect for everything. When a decision is made today it is like a rock tossed in the pond of tomorrow--its consequences ripple through future days, months, and years. The pain of unwise decisions can be avoided by projecting the consequences on a mental screen. Before doing or saying something, we would be wise to picture in our minds what the consequence of doing such a thing would be. We should ask "What will happen as a result of this decision? How will it affect my relationship with God. How will this impact my relationship with friends and family? How will this affect my future abilities to serve God and Christ?" If we will ask ourselves these questions and answer them truthfully, we will usually make the right decision.

So many sacrifice the future for pleasures of the present Ask yourself this question, "What is the bowl of stew in my life?" Is there something or someone for whom you are giving up your birthright? Whatever or whomever it may be, it is not worth the attachment. Nothing can compare with the blessings of obedience to God. No earthly pleasure can come close to the rewards of doing His will. Don't relinquish your blessings as Esau did. Do not sacrifice the future for pleasures of the present.

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