Procrastination is something every believer should repent of and root out. It is a weapon of death because it steals the resurrection life of Christ in us.
whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. (James 4:14)
The context of today’s verse is very sobering. It’s a reminder that our time here is limited. Not only that, we have no idea whether we will even be here tomorrow. Life is a gift of God. It is His to give and His to end, and this world is the journey rather than the destination. There are many – even believers – who find this truth a little depressing. Many others, wearied by struggle, suffering, and hardship are encouraged by the fact that there is an end to what they have had to endure. These two opposite attitudes share one common tragedy. Neither of them have discovered the full resurrection power of life in Christ. They are both living in the half-life of procrastination. They have not yet grasped the incredible reality that in Jesus, we have a new start. We have a spiritual ‘do-over’ as new creatures with new life.
Procrastination is the lingering shadow of death.
If we look at the impact Jesus had on the world, we can see the pattern for the new life we have been given. Literally, it erupted. It turned Jerusalem upside down and then took the world by storm. It was bold and dynamic and transforming. That resurrection power bequeathed to His followers is eternal. It wasn’t for a single generation or for select generations through the centuries. The life we have in Jesus today is exactly the same life given to Peter, John, Paul, and the countless others who began the Christian church. What would have happened if they hadn’t immediately taken hold of this new life with godly zeal and commitment? The answer, very simply, is nothing. Nothing would have happened. Procrastination would have slowly strangled the immeasurable gift they had been given. Instead of living the resurrection life, they would have died in strangled potential.
There is a big difference between waiting on the Lord and procrastination. The latter, however, often masquerades as the former. Those believers in the upper room waited, but did so with expectation. They waited in spiritual preparation. So many believers are ‘waiting on the Lord’ for guidance, or open doors, or a ‘calling’ of some kind. In reality, though, their waiting includes neither expectation or preparation. Those in Jerusalem tarried but with the willingness to go. Many of us wait with the reluctance to go. Procrastination is, in essence, not living the moment in full. It is putting life off until tomorrow, or until some other more convenient time. It means that when we procrastinate, we are living as if we were dead because we’re not living as God intends. Every day that we put off our spiritual growth, we remain stagnant, trapped in the lingering shadow of death.
Our full life in Christ is stolen by procrastination.
I personally believe that procrastination is one of the most powerful tools the enemy has. It’s a common human weakness and a universal weapon, even against believers. Those who resent that our lives are transitory perpetuate their own pretence that it is not. They imagine they will still have tomorrow to do today’s work – or yesterday’s, or even last week’s. They delude themselves into a false sense of security but never really live in the fullness of joy. Those who long to ‘go home’ simply mark time, limping through each day with minimal effort. Procrastination, for them, is a way to survive. Living to the full takes too much effort, so they put off indefinitely anything but what they need to simply get through. There is a third group who accept the transitory nature of life but do not immerse themselves in the fullness of what we have in Jesus.
We lose sight of the truth that once a minute is gone, it’s gone. Our new life in Christ starts at salvation. At that point, the past is gone and we have the opportunity to start afresh in a wonderful, dynamic, vibrant life empowered by Christ Himself. But the principle that the past is gone remains. Life in Christ does not mean we can get those wasted minutes back. The Christian walk always looks forwards. The devil uses procrastination to steal the fullness of life in Christ minute by wasted minute. The saddest truth of all, however, is that we allow him to do so. We’re willing participants. Spiritual life is the most precious gift we can ever receive. It was bought and paid for by blood and life of the Son of God. This is the immeasurable treasure stolen by procrastination.
The cost of procrastination.
Today’s verse occurs within the broader context of doing God’s work. It’s not only about ‘living in the joy of the Lord’ or ‘knowing the peace of God.’ These are part of it, but the early disciples show us that living the fullness of the life of Christ means living Christ. The manifestation and outworking of this was that they went. They did not stay in one place, nor did they hoard their ‘treasure’ close to their hearts. The life of Jesus is evidenced in giving and going. It’s something that fills us up and pours out to such an extent that we simply cannot contain it or hold it back. A resurrection life is one of power. It is a life of exceedingly, abundantly, far more than we could ever ask or imagine. Procrastination carries a tragic cost for both us and others.
Procrastination means we don’t go and share. Those who should receive the life of Christ through us do not. The cost to the unsaved, to new Christians or those struggling, and to the work of the kingdom is immeasurable. Resurrection life is an enormous privilege, but it carries an equal obligation. The last commandment given by Jesus was to go and preach the Gospel. This doesn’t mean words alone. It means revealing Christ, whether through evangelism, teaching, being a living example, or doing good works. Procrastination robs the world of the free, blood-bought resurrection life and it robs us of the full measure of life in this world and our reward in the eternal life to come. It is an enemy deeply rooted in each and every human being, believers included. And it’s incredibly dangerous because it seems so innocuous and can masquerade as something spiritual.
Satan uses procrastination to take the life of Christ.
Because resurrection life must be shared or passed on, when we don’t, we stagnate. It’s like the water in an unopened tap – keep it stuck for long enough, and it turns nasty. A continual outflow of the life of Christ though us ensures that we always receive fresh supply. Procrastination stops us going and sharing. The life within us stagnates and begins to have the opposite effect. It brings spiritual death – slowly but surely, we lose the power of resurrection life to transform and restore us. While procrastination is our own weakness, we must keep something vital in mind. Satan tried to overcome Christ by taking His life. That failed, and we now carry the life of Christ in us. He’s not going to stop with Jesus. He will use whatever means he has – and those we give him – to continue to steal Christ’s life and delay his own destruction.
How to overcome procrastination.
First, we must recognise it and repent. It’s not simply the wasted moments but the attitude behind it that defines procrastination. We must understand that procrastination, because it abuses or misuses the resurrection life of Christ in us, is a sin. James 4:17 says this: Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. Second, we should live each moment with joy and thanksgiving, as if it were our last. The value of our lives is measured by the sum of the value of each moment. This moment, right here, is our chance to live to the full measure of what Jesus bought for us. Third, we must choose to live His life, not ours. As long as we continue to put self first, fullness of life will remain beyond our grasp. To gain His life, we must lose ours.
This is the challenge to every believer. Time is running short. The King is coming soon, and the fields are white for harvest. Will we take hold of the resurrection life of Christ and explode into the world in transforming power? Or will we continue to drag our heels and procrastinate all our moments away in empty imaginings?
Lord, forgive us for taking Your precious gift of life for granted. Thank You for what You have done on the cross, and for the opportunity to live as new creatures in a new life beyond our imaginings. Help us to lose our life in exchange for Yours and to live to the full measure so Your resurrection power can spill over into a thirsty, dying world.