The Eternal Second Marshmallow

          A famous study in 1970 led by Walter Mischel and Ebbe B. Ebbesen researched children’s abilities to delay gratification. Each child was given a choice: get a small but immediate reward or wait for a better one. During the study, every child had a marshmallow placed in front of them, then the researcher would leave the room for 15 minutes and return to see if the child had eaten the marshmallow. If an individual had not eaten a sweet treat then they would be given a second marshmallow or a pretzel stick as a prize for being patient. In our spiritual lives, is the focus on the first or second marshmallow? Are the needs and pleasures of this world being prioritized over our eternal salvation with Christ?

            In Mark 10:17, Jesus was about to begin a journey when a man ran up, knelt before Him, and said, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother’” (Mark 10:19). The man told Jesus that he had kept all the commandments since childhood. Jesus loved the man and told him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Mark 10:21). After hearing this, the man walked away with great sadness because he had many physical possessions and wealth. Based on the man’s final reaction, it is likely that he chose the temporary gratification of his worldly possessions over the eternal reward that comes with following Jesus Christ.

            Jesus says in John 15:1-6, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser…Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.” We abide in Jesus by choosing to believe in Him, getting baptized for the remission of our sins, and obeying His teachings in our lives. Jesus tells us that the greatest commands He gives us are: to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength and you shall love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:30-31).

            Jesus exemplified the epitome of these two commands when He died and was resurrected for our sake (1 John 4:9-10). Matthew 13:45-46 read, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” He treasured God and His kingdom so much that He bought the pearl for our sake. He gave up His life so we could have the opportunity to be blessed with eternal salvation. About Heaven, 1 Corinthians 1:29 tells us, “But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him.” In the book of Revelation, the Bible further describes the unimaginable glory that is Heaven (Revelation 21:4). He gave us the gift of being able to have an eternal second marshmallow. Will you decide to seek, accept, and cherish His gift?