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Lollipop Living

August 13, 2017

 

An illustration from today’s sermon:

“If you’re good today, you’ll develop strong character, which will lead to a great career,” said no parent to a misbehaving four-year old. Ever.

Character? Career? What does that mean to a four-year old?

“If you’re good today, I’ll give you a lollipop,” spoken by myriads of parents through the centuries to misbehaving four-year old. Myriads.

A lollipop is a reward that a four-year old can understand. It’s sweet. It’s sticky. It’s mine.

But as an adult, even if we still like lollipops, we know that the character and career are much more important than a sweet reward at the end of the day.

And there certainly is nothing wrong with being rewarded for completing a task. A cup of coffee. A family vacation. A graduation cake.

But if we’re living for the lollipops, we’re going to be disappointed. A ten-year old is no longer satisfied with a lollipop, like he was when he was four. It’s no¬†longer enough motivation.

The lollipop is short-lived. Its pleasure doesn’t last long. (How many licks does it take to get to the center?) Its value depreciates quickly. (Once you lick it, no one else wants it – except maybe another four-year old). And all you have left are a wrapper and a soggy paper stick.

How often in our lives are we content with the lollipop? We see the short-term benefit of a decision, an action, a thought, a friendship, but we forget that that reward is only as long-lasting as a lollipop.

The New Testament often uses the picture of rewards to remind us that there is something greater waiting. There’s something better than a lollipop – or a quick business deal, or a night at the bar, or a night in someone else’s bed, or fame and fortune.

  • 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 – Only one runner wins the prize, and that only after self-discipline.
  • Philippians 3:12-14 – Forget what is behind and press on toward the prize of the high calling of Jesus Christ.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:9-10 – Our goal should be to please the Lord, because some day we will stand before Him.
  • 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 – Since our work for the Lord will be judged, we need to do our best.
  • Hebrews 11:6 – God rewards those who seek after Him.

Many more, plus examples of individuals who resisted temptation (Joseph and Daniel), help us to understand that there is something greater than a lollipop waiting for us.

Don’t give in to the lollipop. Hold out for the eternal reward.

 

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