Do you know what the future holds? Maybe you have soccer practice or dance class after school. Maybe you are going to spend time with your friends this weekend.
But what about next month or next year? What about ten years from now? Will you have a happy marriage? A good job? What about the state of the society you will live in—will it be a safer world in ten years’ time? Will it be a world of peace?
Since the beginning of time, men have been asking these types of questions. They have been seeking to know their future. They have all sorts of methods of predicting the future—things like reading horoscopes and fortune cookies, going to fortune tellers or palm readers, examining tarot cards or tea leaves or bones, and even looking to the Bible, although they cannot understand it.
In other words, everyone is interested and curious about what their future holds. What about you? Do you know what your future holds? Does it interest you?
What if all the challenges and trials you face today seem like nothing in comparison to the incredible reward you will receive in the future? What if that promised reward made all the wonderful things you enjoy and dream of today seem small and insignificant?
It might sound too good to be true, but God is promising exactly that! God has the most wonderful reward you could possibly imagine in store for you—but He will only give it to you if you are willing to wait for it. Are you willing to wait for it?
Sons of God
Just what is the reward that God wants you to wait for? In a February 2004 Philadelphia Trumpet article titled “Mars Reveals Your Universe Potential,” Mr. Gerald Flurry writes, “God never said to any of the angels that ‘you are my son’ (Heb. 1:5). They are not on the God level. God never intended that they be born sons of God, and yet today they have a fiery splendor that would make us faint if we saw them.
“And yet our potential is much greater! Are we grateful?
“‘For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak’ (Heb. 2:5). God has put the world to come—the Earth and entire universe—in subjection to men and women who enter God’s Family. Only God’s character can rule the universe.
“‘But one in a certain place testified, saying, what is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?’ (verse 6). This is a quote from Psalm 8:4-6. David looked up at what he could see of the universe and asked God why He was mindful of man.
“I believe most of us don’t usually get the deeper meaning from this verse. God is obviously concerned about the universe. But His main focus is on His masterpiece of creation—man!
“The universe would be of little value to God without His Family to rule it. God’s mind is full—mindful—of mankind and their potential. The universe is to be their work after they are born into God’s Family. After men have become God’s Family—the universe will still just be a physical creation.”
The incredible future that God has in store for you is to become a member of His Family—one of His Sons. Once you are baptized and receive God’s Holy Spirit, you will become a “joint-heir with Christ” (Romans 8:17), and when He returns, you will help Him rule the entire universe. That is the fantastic reward that God is offering you—if you can wait for it.
In Genesis 12, we see an example of a man who was willing to obey God and wait patiently for his reward. In verse 1, God tells Abram to gather his family together and leave his home country for a place that He didn’t specify. If he obeyed, God offered him a reward: “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2).
God was offering to make Abram’s family the greatest family of all time! In verse 3, God tells Abram that all the families on the earth would be blessed because of his obedience. That sounds like a pretty good reward for just changing addresses.
To Abram, the reward was worth the difficult move—as well as the wait to find out where he was moving to. Genesis 12:4 says, “So Abram departed …” He didn’t argue or complain. He didn’t even ask God to tell him where he was going. He just left. Abram had the faith to believe that God would fulfill His promises, so when God spoke, he did exactly what God said. Because of his faith, God called Abram His friend (James 2:23).
God made sure that Abram, his wife and his relatives were settled comfortably in their new homeland—the land of Canaan. Then, He tested Abram even more, making him wait for an heir and then later commanding him to sacrifice that heir—his only son. When Abram proved that he had the faith to obey God even in the toughest of circumstances, God both expanded His original promises and made them unconditional (Genesis 17, 22). He also changed Abram’s name, which originally mean “exalted father,” to Abraham, or “father of a multitude.”
Have you ever stopped to think that the great God who offered Abraham such wonderful promises is the same One who has offered amazing promises to you? Abraham had the faith to believe in that God and the promises He made. Do you?
The Marshmallow Test
In the early 1960s, a college professor named Walter Mischel did a series of psychological studies on the ability of preschoolers to exhibit self-control. An article entitled “What the Marshmallow Test Really Teaches About Self-Control” by Jacoba Urist explains in detail what these tests were all about:
“It began in the early 1960s at Stanford University’s Bing Nursery School, where Mischel and his graduate students gave children the choice between one reward (like a marshmallow, pretzel, or mint) they could eat immediately, and a larger reward (two marshmallows) for which they would have to wait alone, for up to 20 minutes. Years later, Mischel and his team followed up with the Bing preschoolers and found that children who had waited for the second marshmallow generally fared better in life. For example, studies showed that a child’s ability to delay eating the first treat predicated higher sat scores and a lower body mass index (bmi) 30 years after their initial Marshmallow Test. Researchers discovered that parents of “high delayers” even reported that they were more competent than “instant gratifiers”—without ever knowing whether their child had gobbled the first marshmallow.”
This evidence certainly indicates that those who can exhibit self-control and delay self-gratification will have a greater degree of success in life. And although this was a test for little children, you can apply this principle to your life as well. If you exhibit self-control, you will have a greater degree of success in building the character you need to inherit your eternal reward.
In 1 Corinthians 9:24-25, Paul likens life as a Christian to a spiritual race. He says that “[E]very man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.…” To be temperate means that you exercise self-restraint. It means that you control yourself and your desires. It means that you are willing to wait for just a little longer, so you can receive two marshmallows instead of just one. If you wait for it, God will give you a reward that won’t even compare to the instant gratification that you could receive today.
Abraham was willing to exercise self-control and develop godly character. He let the vision of his future motivate him to faith and obedience. He was willing to wait for the blessings that God promised him. If you are going to inherit your reward, you have to follow Abraham’s example.
How to Wait
There are seven points that we can boil this down to—seven points to help you trust in God, exercise self-control, and wait for your reward—just like Abraham did.
1. Have the faith to know that God is real and the reward He is offering is real.
Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Abraham believed that God existed and that He would fulfill His promises. That is why he was able to obey all of God’s commands—even to the point of sacrificing his son.
To endure until the end, you must have that same faith. Prove God’s existence through prayer and Bible study. Develop a relationship with your Creator. Then, trust God to fulfill His promises.
2. To receive the reward, we have to listen and obey down to the smallest detail.
Even though he didn’t know where he was going, Abraham obeyed God immediately and in detail (Hebrews 11:8). He had a deep personal relationship with God, which helped him trust God. We must follow his example.
3. Our ability to deny immediate self-gratification can positively impact others.
Abraham’s example of living faith—trusting in God and His promises—taught his family that their reward was coming in the future (Genesis 18:19). By his example, Abraham taught his children to believe in and obey God. You never know when your positive influence of self-control will impact someone else and help them become more self-controlled as well.
4. The reward God offers is greater than any amount of marshmallows.
I know that may sound a bit funny, but if you think about it, the Bible describes a prominent figure who sold his birthright for a bowl of soup. Esau didn’t see the value of his future reward and succumbed to his immediate desires, thereby forfeiting his reward. Abraham, who taught Isaac, understood the real value of what God was offering (Hebrews 11:8-10), and he didn’t let anything physical take him off track. Make sure you don’t let any physical thing get your eyes off of your future reward.
5. God rewards in His time, not ours.
Adam and Eve, influenced and led by Satan the devil, chose to eat the marshmallow right away instead of waiting for God’s promises. Satan is the master deceiver (Revelation 12:9), and he knows exactly how to tempt us into believing that the eternal reward that God is offering us is not worth the wait. Don’t allow him to deceive you like he did Eve. Wait for God’s timing.
Abram had to learn this lesson the hard way. He tried to have an heir through his wife’s handmaid, and that only caused strife within his family.
6. Don’t be persuaded by physical senses.
During the marshmallow challenge, if a kid stared at his treat for too long, he had to touch it. Once he touched it, he had to pick it up. Then he had to lick it, then nibble it, then bite it, and so on. Eventually, the marshmallow was gone.
Once we begin to compromise, the wrong decisions become easier to make, and the right choices become harder. If you allow a temptation to stick around for too long, you will eventually give in to it. As soon as you are tempted, push the temptation out of your mind and focus on the things that are from above instead (Philippians 4:8).
7. Don’t eat the marshmallow. There is less time to wait than you think.
In the original marshmallow test, the children had to wait for 20 minutes before they were given their reward. Many of God’s people—including Abraham—died without receiving their reward (Hebrews 11:13), but they were still faithful to the end. We are only a few moments away from Jesus Christ’s return and the time when we will receive our reward. If Abraham and the other men and women of the Bible could live their entire lives in faith that they would receive the promises, shouldn’t we be able to wait just a little longer for our eternal reward?
Psalm 37:4-5, 7, 9 say, “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those who wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.”
If you want to inherit that incredible future, made plain in The Incredible Human Potential, make sure you exercise self-control. Have faith in God like Abraham did. Christ is about to return, and He is bringing His reward with Him. Wait for it. You won’t have to wait much longer.