Abs of Steel or Abs of Jelly?
Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. Revelation 20:4
A couple years ago, I copied this picture posted of me on Facebook from our yearly CrossFit competition at our gym. I thought it was great action shot, but you don’t have to look very hard to see my belly fat sticking out. I’ve always wanted toned, defined abs, but frankly, I’ve always wanted food more. This may be amusing when it comes to abs and donuts, but this is basically my life problem. My behavior is often driven by what I want right now, and what I want right now is rarely the healthy thing. The most obvious manifestation of this has been my drug addiction, but the drugs were only a symptom of the underlying flaw. I have an unhealthy appetite for immediate gratification which usually causes me some misery later. In the case of the photo, I want toned abs tomorrow, but the picture stands as evidence that I today, I just want donuts.
I use the food and fat analogy because most of you haven’t experienced drug addiction. You have likely though, fought with your appetite. Like Paul in Romans 7:15, I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. We understand Paul’s struggle because we all struggle. This is our condition – to have some self-destructive appetite that causes us misery later, but which we want anyway because it brings us gratification now.
Today’s passage reveals the antithesis to this and the only answer to our appetite problem. In the passage, John described a future 1,000 year reign of Christ on Earth. During this time, those who died for their faith will reign with Christ. Though they endured tremendous sacrifice, their suffering paid off in the end.
This principle of delayed gratification is Biblical, yet profoundly immediate and apparent to us. We get it. We sacrifice and work all our lives so we may earn a paycheck to afford food, clothing, and shelter. We are capable of understanding delayed gratification. Still though, we all have something with which we struggle. We all have some self-destructive method of finding relief and release. We also know however, that we only find fleeting pleasure in that thing. If we truly want to know the life, joy, and peace for which we were created, then daily, we must do what it takes to abandon our now-appetite so that we may find joy and peace in living for what’s right, not for right now.