“Are you a masochist?”
“No, a realist—like Jesus: “In the world you will have tribulation.” Or like Paul: “Suffer hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” We’re in a war, not on a picnic. Or like Peter: “Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” Hard—yes; strange—no.
When Jesus left heaven, He wasn’t thinking, “Going to be fun.” He didn’t enjoy the cross—He endured it! “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”
Hebrews says, “He endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). “He shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be pleased.” Choose holiness, and happiness gets thrown in (Heb. 1:9). Choose happiness—and lose it.
Moses “chose to be mistreated with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward” (Heb. 11:26,27). Sounds like short-term pain and long-term gain.
He was a prince. He could have picked any princess. Is sin pleasurable? Yes—“for a short time.” But then it morphs into guilt and shame. Did Moses choose right? He put out a rod and the sea backed up like a mountain. He turned a rock into a river—in the desert.
Ask the apostle Paul. He said, “Our light, momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal weight of glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Cor. 4:17). Light pain—long gain. It’s called eternity. And “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul” (Acts19:11). You just said “extraordinary” twice!
Ask Peter, who said, “In this you greatly rejoice [future salvation], though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials… “ (I Peter 1:7). Pain now—pleasure later! He didn’t get it at first (Matt. 16), but once he got it, he really got it.
Ask any champion. Cassius Clay, an Olympic boxing champion who later became Muhammed Ali, said, “I hated every minute of training. But I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now, and enjoy the rest of your life as a champion.’” Works for athletes and artists, for investors who pinch pennies, and for Christ-followers. Say it: short-term pain—long-term gain!
People who choose short-term gain…
- struggle in their marriage and don’t know why
- act like victims who deserve a better life
- choose to be happy—and it eludes them
- spend their life regretting what went wrong
People who choose short-term pain…
- bring you joy, because it is not about them
- are willing to serve others at their own expense
- live with hope, because the best is yet to come
- look to the future with joy rather than to the past with regret
Let’s reform the pizza-at-your-door “NOW” generation and call them the “NOT NOW” generation! King David, in a moment of “now” weakness, surrendered to short-term gain. Shattered his family. Horrendous long-term pain. Joseph chose short-term pain—slavery, loss of job, jail term. It meant rising to the top as the second most powerful man on earth. Way to go, Joe?