In the late 1960’s a psychologist named Walter Mischel did an experiment exploring delayed gratification with primary aged children. The children were led into a room, empty of distractions, where a treat of their choice ,like a marshmallow, was placed on a table. The children could eat the treat, but if they waited for fifteen minutes without giving in to the temptation, they would be rewarded with a second treat. Two thirds of the children failed, they gave up a future reward for a present one.
In a world of instant gratification, being a Christian is hard. Jesus reminds us that the kingdom of God is ‘now but not yet’. We are in the kingdom ‘now’ but its rewards are ‘not yet’ – they come with His return (Matt 5).
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
In each statement Jesus speaks of the ‘now’ and the ‘not yet’ of the kingdom. Ironically, Jesus teaches that dissatisfaction is part of being a blessed person. Keep the future in mind as you live the present; not your future (that is set) but the future of those around you as they watch.