Delayed Gratification

by Ong Eng Boon

We live in a world where we can now have instant noodles, instant coffee and information is available at our fingertips with just a click. In fact, people are now looking for instant success formula with many seminars being organized to teach you how to be a millionaire in 3-6 months!

We seem to have a “we want it now” mentality! People want instant gratification! What about delayed gratification? We cannot stand delayed gratification. It is unthinkable as it involves hard work, sacrifice and diligence in whatever things we do.

What is delayed gratification? Is this a biblical concept? “Delayed gratification, or deferred gratification, is the ability to resist the temptation for an immediate reward and wait for a later reward. Generally, delayed gratification is associated with resisting a smaller but more immediate reward in order to receive a larger or more enduring reward later.” (

During those days when I took a course in Financial Planning, the most common examples of delayed gratification is for a person to be able to save his money now through investing in different classes of financial products while they are in their productive years of their career in order to be able to enjoy a reasonable standard of living when they reach their retirement age. But it is always easier said than done.  Along the way, you will be constantly challenged on a daily basis with temptations or opportunities for you to spend money….for that new clothes, upgrade to a latest hand phone, change to a new car or whatever it may be.

In order to help each individual reach their financial/retirement goals, one of the ways is to ask what sort of lifestyle they want to live when they reach their retirement age and with that end in mind, we will be able to work backwards mathematically as to the amount needed to be put aside systematically in order to achieve the desirable goals. A simple example would be as follows:

1. Monthly needs during retirement – RM3,000

2. With a simple interest rate of 3% per annum generated from your savings, you will need a capital sum of RM3,000×12/3% = RM 1,200,000 in order to generate the RM3,000 monthly for your retirement needs.

With that goal in mind, you will start thinking through what really matters most… spending now and enjoy a small gratification, or saving now for that much greater pleasure in the future or delayed gratification.

The same is true for Christian life, our goal is to attain heaven and as we journey on to live a life which is pleasing to God, the greatest challenges we face is falling into various temptations, trials, afflictions and persecutions.

 “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12).

We need to restrain from habitual sins that will keep us away from ultimate reward of heaven as sins can be enjoyed for a season but will destroy us eternally.

 “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing of pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward” (Heb. 11:24-26).

Scriptures tell us that delayed gratification brings significantly more joy than the instant.  We say no to an immediate, smaller pleasure which at times can be sinful because we know that restrain and patience will produce a greater, more lasting pleasure later and ultimately the heavenly reward.

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (Jas. 1:2-4).

As Christians, we need to have the mental attitude of delayed gratification especially when we are facing various trials, afflictions and temptations in our life.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:16-18).

With a strong faith in God that He will deliver us from our trials and tribulations and with much endurance and patience, we will be able to overcome our present sufferings which are considered light and only for a moment as compared to the glory that is waiting for us which are far more exceeding and of eternal weight!

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom.8:18).