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The Problem of Procrastination

In this devotional, the focus is on procrastinators, urging them to overcome the habit by highlighting its negative consequences, such as missed opportunities, entrenched laziness, and the erroneous assumption of ample time, all while drawing on biblical wisdom from Solomon and James to emphasize the importance of timely action and the unpredictability of life.
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Tell me what kind of person is talking here… "I will do it later"; "I will watch the movie, then finish the work"; "tomorrow"; "next time"; "You want me to do it now?"…

Of course, these sentences come from our mouths when we procrastinate. If you are not familiar with the word procrastinate, it means to delay or to put things off. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons that cause us to delay doing certain things, even important things, but many times we use delay as a way to avoid things, people, responsibilities. Eventually procrastination becomes our way of dealing with life and usually we end up regretting it.

So, I want to share with you several reasons why you should avoid the destructive habit of procrastination itself.

1. Procrastination robs you

The person who keeps delaying usually does not realize that by doing this he is cutting himself off from various opportunities awaiting, just out of sight. Solomon writes:

Poor is he who works with a negligent hand,
But the hand of the diligent makes rich.
- Proverbs 10:4

Solomon is talking about the guy who keeps "after it" who goes out and creates the opportunity, how he will succeed: salesmen who go out on the rainy days; job seekers who send out the résumés; students who get the assignments done early.

People who "put off" until tomorrow do not realize that by doing so they may have missed an opportunity of a lifetime waiting for them today, that won't be there tomorrow.

This is why procrastinators are poor: a lifetime of missed chances, late starts, blown opportunities because they could not do it now, when the time was right.

2. Procrastination roots you

Procrastinators are basically lazy people and every time they "put off" things, they simply sink their roots deeper into the mud of laziness. Like lazy people, procrastinators are full of excuses that they use to delay or avoid. Again, Solomon warns:

The sluggard does not plow in the cold,
so he begs in the harvest in the harvest and has nothing.
- Proverbs 20:4 KJV
The sluggard says, "There is a lion in the road!
A lion is in the open square!"
- Proverbs 26:13

The idea here is that this person uses excuses to avoid work (too cold) or to avoid going about his business (too dangerous). We tend to form our character by the choices we make: we lie and deceive to get ahead or avoid punishment and we become dishonest and untrustworthy people. When we avoid, delay and put off whenever faced with work, hard choices, or challenges to grow, we become lazy, underdeveloped, angry and many times depressed people.

Lazy people do not like activity and refuse to make an effort when faced with work or a challenge. Procrastinators avoid effort by putting it off and filling up the time with less challenging or difficult things, always doing easy stuff first.

3. Procrastination assumes that you have time

The main flaw in a procrastinator's thinking is that there is plenty of time. But Solomon says,

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what the day may bring forth.
- Proverbs 27:1

How do you know you will have the time, energy, ability, opportunity, even the life to do it later or tomorrow? James reminds us that our lives are like vapor and that assuming we have time is a great evil because it assumes we control time… and only God controls time. However, the truth is that only God controls time.

Some things we put off to no great harm: buying the new shirt; trying out a great Mexican restaurant; getting a haircut. Some things left undone could change the course of human history (for example, has Abraham Lincoln put off going to the theatre until the next evening) or worse still, some things put off could change the direction of our eternal lives.

Such a poignant moment appears in Acts 24 where Felix, the governor, was listening to Paul, his prisoner, preach the gospel. Luke writes the following:

24But some days later Felix arrived with Drusilla, his wife who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. 25But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, "Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you."
- Acts 24:24-25

The gospel had penetrated his heart and he was at the point of decision, a decision that would have changed the course of his eternal existence but one that would mean change, challenge, effort. He did not scoff at Paul or even deny the truth, he merely used the tactic of delay to avoid doing what he needed to do. And even after he heard Paul preach for two more years, the "moment", the "opportunity" was lost forever.

Are you a procrastinator? Not just putting things off once in a while, we all do this. I mean is "putting off" your lifestyle? Then make a decision now, do not put it off, that you will ask God to help you change. Make the decision for this now, not later, this is the first step to change. As an exercise, start doing the hard stuff first!

Finally, are you putting off becoming a Christian? Remember you have no guarantee that you will have a chance to come to Christ tomorrow.

Discussion Questions

  1. What types of things do you tend to procrastinate? Why?
  2. Describe several ways that a friend with this bad habit could use to change.
  3. Describe something or some action you are putting off at the moment. What will you need to take action now?
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