The Sin of Procrastination

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring” (Proverbs 27:1 ESV).

When I was learning the Spanish language, I was told a joke. Seems that there were some workers who were asked to do a certain task and they would always answer “manana” (which is assumed to mean, tomorrow). Each day such a conversation would take place until finally one asked, “I thought “manana” meant “tomorrow.” To which the individual replied, “No, it simply means ‘not today.'” Sadly, such is the attitude of many.

Procrastination is the act of putting something off until a later time. There is an old proverb, “Never put off ’til tomorrow what you can do today.” The procrastinator turns that saying on its head in a weak effort to be amusing and says, “Never do today what you can put off ’til tomorrow.” People in our society procrastinate often. We may put off appointments with our physician. We may put off meetings at work to a later day or time. We may opt for exercising a day later or put off going to the store until tomorrow. Certainly we’ve all done such things at one time or another in our life, and so much as such things have no eternal significance on the state of our souls, it is more or less unimportant. Let us be clear, however, that while it is one thing to procrastinate with the business of this world which may be eternally inconsequential, it is quite another thing to procrastinate with the business of the Lord where there are eternal consequences.

It is funny (in a sad way), however, how many will get priorities confused. Many understand the importance of not procrastinating when it comes to matters of money. They will get their bills paid on time and in the mail. They will not be negligent to transfer money out of stocks and into bonds before the market changes. They will go to the gas station at midnight if it will save a few cents on the gallon before the price increases the next day. Funny (!?) how we see the importance of not procrastinating when it affects our pocketbooks! How much more important are our souls and the souls of those around us? Such actions expose our true priorities and will leave us without excuse in the judgment.

In the scriptures we find several procrastinators. There was a young man who told Jesus he would follow Him, only he first needed to tend to family matters (Matthew 8:21, Luke 9:59-62). There are those who will procrastinate doing good because of their lack of faith in the second coming (Matthew 24:48-51). Perhaps the quintessential example, however, is that of Felix, who said in response to Paul’s preaching, “Go thy way for this time; and when I have a convenient season, I will call thee unto me” (Acts 24:25). J.W. McGarvey, in his Original Commentary on Acts said regarding Felix indecision, “It is a sad warning to all who thus procrastinate, that to neither Felix nor Drusilla did the season ever come which they thought convenient to listen to such preaching. Felix was soon dismissed in disgrace from his office; and Drusilla, with a son by Felix, perished in that eruption of Mount Vesuvius which engulfed the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.”

Paul declares in 2 Corinthians 6:2 “now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” Putting off the Lord’s work to some future day may temporarily resolve whatever problem we think we have, but it will not resolve that problem eternally, it will only create greater, insurmountable problems.

When business of the Lord comes ’round, yes, needing to be done,
And eager souls around desire the work to have begun,
Some say just for the present time that we procrastinate,
And put that business off until some more “convenient” date.
How sad that such an attitude prevents the work of God,
Discouraging those eager hands to hang their heads and nod.
For time will come when work is done and no clock can be turned,
To days when opportunity and willing hands were spurned.
To judgment such will go in grief; the past won’t be interred,
For in that day no longer will decisions be deferred.
Oh let us not deceive ourselves and this day’s deeds erase,
And so dismiss the Lord’s business to other time or place.
The accepted time is now, my friend, to do the Lord’s good work.
So let us do so cheerfully, our charge no longer shirk.

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