What Does The Bible Say About Procrastination? A Christian Study

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Does the Bible teach anything at all about procrastination? If so, what is it? What does it mean for the Christian?

Procrastination is…

Procrastination is putting off something intentionally and consistently either by delay or by excusing one’s self from doing whatever it is. I went through college and I sometimes procrastinated on doing my assignments only to have them come back to haunt me at a later time. It’s like the proverbial Christmas shopper who puts off their Christmas shopping until Christmas Eve. The problem with procrastination is that it’s sometimes an open window for doing whatever it is that’s being put off will close and the option to do it will no longer exist. My high school friend who waited too long to ask a girl out to the prom found out only too late that she had already been asked so he had to go alone. This is something James once addressed when he wrote, “You do not have, because you do not ask” (James 4:2b). Does the Bible say anything about procrastination? If I put it off now, I’d be procrastinating, but not for long. Let’s try to find out what the Bible says on this subject or something very similar to it.

What Does The Bible Say About Procrastination

He Who Hesitates

The proverbial saying “He who hesitates is lost” is a definition of a person who spends too much time deliberating about what to do and then loses the chance to act upon it. I could not find the word “procrastination” in the Bible but the concept is very much spread throughout Scripture so here are several Bible verses for you to consider about what we could call or identify as procrastination with some commentary for the Christian to ponder in their walk with Christ.

Proverbs 13:4 “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.”

This might be more about slothfulness or laziness which is sin than it is procrastination but the fact is that a sluggard is both slothful and lazy and that’s why he or she “gets nothing.”

Proverbs 12:24 “The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor.”

The diligent are just the opposite of the slothful and are anything but procrastinators. That’s why the diligent rule, in most cases because they’ve earned the right to be by consistently working hard. The slothful will be working for the diligent in most cases.

Ephesians 5:15-17 “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

These verses speak about making the best use of time. Some translations say “redeeming” the time. The foolish do not do so and waste their life on frivolous, earthly pleasures which is why Paul wants the believer to “understand what the will of the Lord is.”

Proverbs 20:4 “The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing.”

The sluggard waited too long to put in a crop by procrastinating. That’s why when the harvest is come, there is nothing for if you sow nothing, and you’ll harvest a lot of nothing.

Luke 9:59-62 “To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

This is the most deadly of all procrastination. The man didn’t really want to follow Jesus perhaps due to the fact that he wanted to wait until his father died so that he could inherit his father’s money. Jesus is clear that there is no time to waste because in one parable, Jesus said a man who was accumulating much wealth to take his ease for many years suddenly heard, “You fool, tonight your very soul is required” (Luke 12:20).

The Deadliness of Procrastination

I have witnessed to many people over the years and I often hear people say “Well, I’ll come to Christ after I clean up my life and get it all straightened out” but the fact is we all have an appointment with death and then the judgment (Heb 9:27) and we have no clue when that appointment time comes. If people are making excuses for not repenting and believing in Christ now, they may wait one day too many and then it’ll be too late (Rev 20:12-15). If they wait to “clean up their life” they may never come because no one can overcome sin without the Spirit’s help. God will clean up those who come to Him (2 Cor 5:21). He will clear the guilty (Rom 5:1, 8:1). The many who I spoke with about who are sitting on the fence I have warned time and again that all the fence sitters and all who are on the other side of the fence will be cast into hell. To make no decision (to procrastinate) is to make a decision not to believe and that will have eternal consequences where all hope will be lost.

Conclusion

If you have never repented, which means that if there has never been a time when you turned away and have forsaken your sins and then put your trust in Christ, why are you procrastinating? What are you waiting on? You could wait too long. Why are you procrastinating on telling your family, friends, and co-workers that if they reject Jesus, they have the wrath of God abiding on them (John 3:18; John 3:36b) for all eternity. There is no time to lose. You may never get a second chance to be saved or to witness to that lost person you know. He who snoozes, loses, but they risk losing far too much to even imagine. Indeed, he who hesitates is lost…and it could be for eternity.

Perhaps you are interested in this article: 10 Time Management Tips for the Busy Christian

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Tony Reese July 14, 2015 at 6:50 pm

Ouch. You cut me to the quick brother Jack. LOL.
I’ve, unfortunately, been a procrastinator all my life. I was surprised at my 20th class reunion that one of my high school friends suddenly said to me “Good old Tony. You always did procrastinate.” It had never dawned on me that my friends had thought of me that way. But I was guilty as charged. I can testify first hand of the missed opportunities that I’ve missed out on due to hesitating for far too long.

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Jack Wellman July 14, 2015 at 9:38 pm

Thank you Tony…uh, you will need to move over and make room for me too! I was going to write this last year but guess what I did! 😉

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Judy November 28, 2015 at 9:25 pm

I use to stay on top of everything but over the years a relative of mine would always tell me, when she wanted me to come visit her, that people were more important than cleaning house, taking care of my family’s needs. That I should be spontaneous, like her and drop everything if someone wanted me to go out to lunch (example). She would always drop anything and everything to go help someone or go out to lunch with them. She stayed behind on her duties at her home….then, call me to come help her. She, of course, would say, she was only teasing. She would tell me, it all will be there when you get back and she was right. It is hard for me to live like that. I have always felt I was so uncaring, selfish, etc. because I didn’t do like she did even though I would do for others which she had no idea.

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