I opened the refrigerator door. Blink. Blink. Do I really want to go through all the trouble of preparing a healthy snack when there’s a small bag of chips in the pantry, less than 2 feet away?
It would be easier and quicker if I snagged some Cheetos instead of taking time to pull out lunchmeat, mustard, cheese and an apple.
Easy. Quick. Now.
Sure one snack would make me feel sluggish and would probably have my stomach growling within the hour, while the other would satisfy my hunger and most likely give me a boost of energy. But at that moment, I wasn’t thinking about future repercussions.
I wanted my needs met. I wanted to be satisfied. Immediately.
I chomped each crunchy stick, reasoning my choice as acceptable. After all, the package declared Cheetos are “made with real cheese.”
Digging into the crinkling bag, I claimed every last crumb of Cheetos dust from the crevices of the silver lining.
Orange-stained fingertips and the empty bag only confirmed my suspicion. I could’ve made a better choice. I could’ve listened to that “voice in my head,” the voice that pricked my conscience and warned me that I’ve been down this road before.
My instant gratification wasn't gratifying at all.
Somehow I knew, my feeling of dissatisfaction had very little to do with my snack choice.
In Acts 5: 1-10, Luke shares the story of Ananias and Sapphira. The Bible says the apostles Peter and John were filled with the Holy Spirit and were speaking “the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31b).
God was growing His church. “[There] was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need” (Acts 4:34-35).
The people weren't forced to give. Their needs weren't compromised by their generosity. They gratefully gave in loving worship to God and with deep care and compassion toward the needs of others.
“But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and held back some of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles feet” (Acts 5:1-2).
The Lord had proven that He would meet the needs of all His people. All they had to do was trust Him with everything and be patient. Still, Ananias and his wife wanted their bag of chips upfront.
Easy. Quick. Now.
Peter reminded Ananias that the land was his, given to him by God. It was his to give or keep. Yet, instead of admitting that he wasn’t willing to trust everything to God, Ananias lied.
Peter said, "You have not lied to men but to God." (Acts 5:4b)
Ananias died right there on the spot. His wife came to the apostles a few hours later. She had no idea what had happened to her husband. Peter tried to give her a way out of her self-made pit, but she lied, too.
This couple thought they could deceive God. They took what they felt they deserved, what they needed to gratify their immediate desires, and held back from the Lord.
Maybe they were greedy. Maybe they were afraid God wouldn’t meet their personal needs, even though they witnessed His amazing provision in the lives of all the believers in their congregation.
Regardless of their reasons, Ananias and Sapphira took the easy route, the sure thing, the self-help path. They marched down the road devoid of integrity and faith and fell into the deceptive pit of denial.
They experienced how instant gratification and holding out on God can lead to destruction. And at the end of their journey, they found no satisfaction.
While my snack dilemma didn’t cause me to face a life-and-death decision, it did remind me that my choices shouldn’t be made in an effort to meet my immediate fleshly desires.
Settling for self-gratification and holding out on God can push us into the pit of despair, discouragement, dissatisfaction, and instant disobedience.
But when we believe God meets our needs in His timing and according to His perfect will, we can give to God and others without fear of being in want.
Lord, thank You for reminding us that trusting You by giving generously, freely, and cheerfully is a sign of wisdom and faith. Please help us avoid the temptation to settle for instant gratification. Help us give to You in such a way that shows we believe everything belongs to You, the Giver of all good things, and that You always meet our needs. In Jesus’ name, amen
In what area of your life is it hardest to avoid the temptation of settling for instant gratification or holding back from God?
Previously published at www.xedixon.com—Blooming in Christ—When Instant Gratification isn't Gratifying by Xoche E. Dixon—June 13, 2014.