I’ve come to realize that one mark of maturity is the ability to delay gratification. Children and immature people become frustrated when they are told that they must wait to receive the things they want. Certainly it is not wrong to wish we could have everything we desire sooner than later, but a sign that we have entered into a degree of maturity is the ability to be patient and to wait for our cravings to be met at the appropriate time.
There is an interesting story in the book of John about Jesus and his brothers:
After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand. So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” For not even his brothers believed in him. Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.” After saying this, he remained in Galilee.
John 7:1-7 (ESV)
Jesus’ statement “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here” is indicative of the human condition. Jesus was able to discern when the perfect time was at hand to do the various works predetermined by His heavenly Father but, according to Jesus, His brothers did not have a seasoned sense of patience or discernment. They wanted action and they wanted it NOW!
Numerous places in the New Testament reference God’s timing:
- Galatians 4:4 – “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”
- Romans 5:6 – “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”
- Ephesians 1:9-10 – “He made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.”
Consider your own life. Are you like Jesus’ brothers whose “time is always here?” Have you caused yourself and others problems because you simply could not wait for the perfect timing? Have your cravings for material things caused deep credit card debt? Have you made bad choices in regards to relationships, employment, or health because you had to have “it” right now? Has your faith wavered because you did not get the answer to prayer in the time frame you determined was best? If so, confess your immaturity to God and ask Him to work the fruit of the Spirit into your life. One of those fruits is patience…the ability to rest and let things happen according to His will and timing. You will experience peace and satisfaction as a result!