There is one Gemara that the Soton (Satan) absolutely, completely, totally does not want you to know. It’s a Gemara in Makos 23b that says the following: “Kol hayosheiv velo avar aveirah,” any person who didn’t commit a sin, “nosnim lo sechar,” they give him reward, “k’oseh mitzvah,” as if he did a mitzvah (commandment). The Rishonim (early commentaries) explain that if you have a temptation for a particular sin and it’s within your nekudas habechirah, meaning it’s something that you might possibly do, and you hold yourself back, whatever the punishment would have been for doing that sin, you’re getting reward for not doing it.
Meaning to say, every time you hold back, every time you don’t think about a certain thought, every time you don’t do a certain act, you’re given tremendous reward. It’s far greater than the punishment, because reward is 500 times what punishment is.
I’d like to explain to you what this means in plain, simple language. If you make up I will not look or I will not think, likely you’ll succeed for a little while. For whatever time that you succeed, whether it be a day, a week or a minute, you’re given tremendous reward — even if the next day you fail. If on Monday you didn’t do whatever it was that you made up not to do, you’re given tremendous reward, even if on Tuesday you fail. And even more than that, if for one minute you hold back, that minute you’re given reward, even though the next minute you did it.
What do you mean? I’m a hypocrite, look, I did it anyway! No, you’re not, you’re a human being with two parts of you. You don’t want, you do want, you don’t want — you’re battling a battle, and for battling the battle you’re given reward. And every moment that you hold back you’re given tremendous sechar.
This Gemara is fundamental to understanding life. Because many times guys say who needs this. I could be so great, I could learn, I could accomplish, I could be doing so much more, but I’m constantly battling these demons in my mind — who needs this? And it could well be that that battle is the most valuable thing you’ve ever engaged in. Because that battle is the battle of the generation, that battle is the battle for your life, and that battle every moment that you win you’re given reward that’s unimaginable. We don’t view it that way now, we have questions who needs it, but when we leave this earth we’ll see the tremendous accomplishments. And every moment that you held back, every minute that you resisted, you’re given tremendous reward. Even though later you failed, one doesn’t negate the other.