I’ve recently taken several personality profiles for a work-related endeavor. Typically, these profiles include an assessment where the participant is required to answer a series of questions, often choosing between or ranking a list of options, until an algorithm can create a profile of your strengths, weaknesses, giftings, and preferences. These findings are then expressed in single words or phrases such as “motivator” or “hospitable” or “works better alone.”
No shade here—I’m finding these latest assessments (I’ve taken many of them) to be insightful. Even so, I recently stumbled upon another series of words and phrases you likely won’t find on the most popular personality profiles available in the marketplace today. They’re found in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, as historically recorded in Matthew 5-7.
In Chapter 5, Jesus offers the profile—we might even say DNA—of someone who is a faithful and devoted follower. That devotee is poor in spirit (v.3), one who mourns (v.4), and one who is humble (v.5). The faithful disciple is one who will withhold punishment and extend grace even when it is not deserved (v.7) and make peace, even though the human heart often looks for a good ol’ knock-down, drag-out fight (v.9).
I can just see the results from that personality assessment: “Jayson is destined to embrace a life of mourning and humility ….” Held up to societal standards, such an assessment would be disappointing, to say the least. But juxtaposed with the biblical standard, you’d be hard-pressed to find a follower of Jesus who wouldn’t want that as their epitaph.
The question is, how do we bring our hearts to a place where we see words such as “humble” and “mourning” not as flimsy or discouraging, but empowering? Jesus tells us a few verses later: “Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven.”
His words ought to be a convicting reminder that this world is not our home. We all want great things for our lives, for our kids, and (hopefully) for everyone we know. But herein lies a landscape where Satan likes to set a trap for us, somehow convincing our hearts that we must go all-in—no matter what it takes—to achieve our best lives now. I personally believe Jesus would tell us instead that our best life is coming, when we exist in a perfect place with a perfect God as has always been intended.
Delayed gratification is the idea that we give up what may be rewarding now for a greater reward later. Christians—no, I—need to learn how to delay gratification, giving up the battles regarding all the things for which I might contend—money, power, significance, status—in exchange for the unfathomable glory that is to come for we who have put our trust in Jesus.
Where is the strain in your soul? What situations in life are causing you the most discomfort? What is stealing your Jesus-promised peace today? With deeper examination, you may find that the source of that which is troubling you is rooted in a desire to take hold of a reward now that may not be experienced until heaven.