Proverbs 13:12

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

Remember this proverb on motivation. If you desire a person to work hard towards a goal (produce more, win a competition, be nice to you, etc.), then see that desires are fulfilled along the way. Provide rewards. Positive motivation is more effective than negative motivation.

What are desires that can be fulfilled? Receiving encouragement is important. The laborer is more likely to produce 20 gadgets a day, if he is praised for raising his production from 5 to 10. But if he receives no encouragement, then his production is likely to decline. In my counseling, I’ve noticed that this is a common problem in marriages. Wives will focus on what their husbands are failing to do, baffled that their husbands will not change. (“How many times do I have to remind him?”) Husbands are frustrated that their wives have to keep being told that they are loved. (“Shouldn’t she just know?”) We all need rewards and encouragement to motivate us to press on. A fulfilled desire is life renewing and gives us the strength to move forward.

That is what God does for us. Our greatest hope – glorification at Christ’s return – has remained a long-awaiting hope. But we press on for the desires that are fulfilled now – the joys of salvation, of Christian fellowship, of spiritual sanctification. We are given the Lord’s Supper to give us tastes of the heavenly banquet and be comforted. We are given earthly blessings of family, friends, productive work, and so on.

God knows how weak and sinful we are, and so he grants us fulfilled desires that keep the real hope before us. Let us do the same for one another. Make it your business today to encourage your neighbor, your spouse, your family – whomever God places in your path.

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