Don’t settle for less, #06: Don’t procrastinate

Don’t procrastinate.  It’s the sixth in a series of traits for successful people in the secular world that we’re looking at.  However, we’re also seeing how these same traits can be applied to becoming a “successful” Christian.  Someone who not only has an idea what Christianity is really about, but who also lives it.  Finally, who also does the Great Commission and not what Dallas Willard calls the Great Omission.

Don’t settle for less, #06: Don't procrastinate is article #8 in the series: Settling for less. Click button to view titles for entire series

Don't procrastinateWith that in mind, here’s the sixth, from 23 Things Successful People Never Do on bestlifeonline.com:

Let’s be honest, we all procrastinate every now and then, whether it’s about that pile of laundry you keep putting off or that résumé you keep saying you’ll update, but never do. Successful people have learned how to overcome the habit of putting off what’s most important. They get a rush not from the relief they feel by delaying something to another day, but by pushing forward, getting the task done that they said they’d do, and checking it off their list.

“If there’s something that needs to get done, it’s imperative to meet your deadline,” urges Dinneen. “Putting off a difficult or unpleasant task only wastes precious time and can lead you to worrying about it for way longer than you need to.”

Don’t put off what’s important

If you’ve read Don’t settle for less, #05, that should sound familiar.  It was called Don’t wait until you’re ready.

Even the part about If there’s something that needs to get done, it’s imperative to meet your deadline was discussed.  There’s a difference between what that means to a Christian as opposed to someone in the secular world though.  We looked at that as well in #05.  It said we should wait for God.  So the deadline isn’t ours, it’s God’s.  Everything in His time.

Here’s an excerpt from Psalm 37 on that thought.

Psalm 37

Ps 37:5 Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:

Ps 37:6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

Ps 37:7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Ps 37:8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.

Ps 37:9 For evil men will be cut off,
but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.

Ps 37:10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.

Ps 37:11 But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy great peace.

The key, of course, is Ps 37:7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;.  The verses cover the context and the reasoning behind what David wrote.

What about Don’t procrastinate?

Everything above is great for waiting on the Lord.  But what about not procrastinating?  In other words, what about not waiting past the time when God’s ready?  Past the time when the Holy Spirit’s trying to get your attention and is saying – “go – now”?

The secular reasoning here doesn’t really work for a Christian doing God’s work.

Putting off a difficult or unpleasant task only wastes precious time and can lead you to worrying about it for way longer than you need to.

While the task may seem unpleasant at first, it will lead to joy, if we do it while walking with God.  Maybe that’s hard to believe if you haven’t tried it yet.  But as Christians, we need to remember what Jesus told us.

The Vine and the Branches

Jn 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

Jn 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

Jn 15:9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.”

Yes – I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  Doing these things without God can be unpleasant.  Impossible.  Something we want to put off for as long as possible.  But when we follow what Jesus taught, when we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, our joy will be complete.  For more on joy / happiness in the “normal” sense versus what Jesus meant, please check out A note on happiness.

So why shouldn’t we procrastinate?

Maybe you’re still asking, why not procrastinate?  Even if we never do the thing God’s asking us to do, won’t He have a Plan B?  Won’t He have someone else do it instead?  But that’s missing the point.  It was a task we were created to do.  For the One who created us.

Let me create a picture for you, then explain it.  Remember the image at the top of the page?  It was a burned out light bulb, trying to get someone’s attention.  Trying to say it needs to be replaced.

Now, let’s say that light bulb represents the Holy Spirit in us.  Fortunately, the Holy Spirit will be trying to get our attention before it goes out.  But if it does go out, we’re in trouble.  If it goes out, if the Holy Spirit is no longer in us, then we’ve done what Jesus warned us about in the following passage from Luke’s gospel.

Warnings and Encouragements

12:2-9 pp — Mt 10:26-33

Lk 12:1 Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 3 What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.

Lk 12:4 “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Lk 12:8 “I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. 9 But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

Lk 12:11 “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

As usual, I include the entire passage for context.  But for this particular topic, don’t procrastinate, the key verses are these:

Lk 12:9 But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

There are various commentary views on these verses.  One that looks specifically at the Jews of Jesus’ time says this:

The “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” (v. 10) has special reference to the Jewish nation that was rejecting the evidence Jesus gave them of who He was and what they needed to do. When they refused the ministry of John the Baptist, they rejected God the Father who sent John; but there was still the witness of the Son. When they rejected Jesus, He prayed for them (Luke 23:34). They still had the witness of the Spirit (Acts 1:8). When they rejected the witness of the Spirit through the church (Acts 2–7), they sinned against the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51), and there was no further witness left! 1) Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 177). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

A more general view, which is more applicable to us today is this one:

ACKNOWLEDGING CHRIST

We should never be afraid to acknowledge Jesus before others. If we are courageous in our identification with Him, He will claim us as His own and will acknowledge us before the angels of God (12:8). However, if, in our fear of others, we disown Him, He will disown us before the angels of God (12:9).
Fear of what other people may think of us leads to hypocrisy and the denial of Christ. Simon Peter would soon taste the result of that fear when a little girl would accuse him of being one of Jesus’ disciples. Hypocrisy pretends to be something it is not, because it fears someone will discover the truth. Denial pretends not to be something it is, because it fears someone will discover the truth. Both have their roots in fear, and both are sin.

Sin – yes.  But forgivable.

Regarding one sentence in there – Simon Peter would soon taste the result of that fear when a little girl would accuse him of being one of Jesus’ disciples.  I think it’s important to remember what Jesus told Peter on that occasion.

Lk 22:31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

For more on those two verses please see Do you make Jesus pray in vain?  I did that one almost 5 years ago.  At the end of it, I wrote:

And so I wonder – if I ever come to believe what I think I know about God’s grace – 
will there be joy – in spite of / while being sifted?  
or will finally learning that lesson maybe reduce / bring an end to the sifting?

I hope I find out the answer soon.

I actually did find out the answer about three years ago.  I guess that falls under the category of be careful what you ask for.  Almost.  The thing is, there is joy.  Amazing joy.  But at the same time, the sifting didn’t end.  Although, the joy continues.  I made a note to write that up and include links to it in here and in Do you make Jesus pray in vain?

Back on topic.  Here’s what it says about the one and only unforgivable sin.

UNFORGIVABLE SIN

The wonderful message of God’s love and grace is that sin is forgivable. Even if you speak a word against the Son of Man, it can be forgiven (12:10) if you confess your sin and accept Christ by faith. There is hope for the most vile sinner. That is good news! No sinner is beyond God’s reach, and no sin is beyond His capacity to forgive.
However, Jesus added a warning: “anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven” (12:10). The unforgivable sin is sin against the Holy Spirit.

As the previous section points out, there is a difference between Jesus (the Son of God) and the Holy Spirit (The Mind of Christ).  So what is it about the Holy Spirit that’s special here?  What makes it unforgivable to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit?

Matthew’s record places this statement immediately following the Pharisees’ declaration that Jesus cast out demons by the power of Beelzebub (Matt. 12:31), which suggests that the sin of which Jesus spoke is that of seeing the work of God and declaring it to be the work of the devil.

Yes, but there’s more.

The work of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of sin, convince us of truth, connect us with Christ’s atonement, and confirm our relationship with God (John 16:8–13). If we defy the work of the Holy Spirit, we have no access to the source of forgiveness. The only unforgivable sin is the sin that will not respond to the Spirit that would lead to forgiveness.
There is great danger in deadening the voice of the Spirit by constant and consistent denial, in blurring the line between good and evil so that you are no longer sensitive toward either, and in ridiculing the redemptive work of Christ until it is no longer believed to be either necessary or effective. It is possible to push yourself beyond the reach of God and be without Christ and without hope.  2)Heer, K. (2007). Luke: A Commentary for Bible Students (pp. 177–178). Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House.

Remember the light bulb that’s about to burn out.  And when it does, we’ve done what the author said.  We’ve pushed ourselves beyond the reach of God and (we will) be without Christ and without hope.  With no hope of forgiveness.

Don’t procrastinate

And that’s the problem with procrastinating too much.  When we reach the point where we’re continually telling the Holy Spirit, “No, not yet”, or just plain “No!”, then we’re in danger of doing what the author pointed out.

The work of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of sin, convince us of truth, connect us with Christ’s atonement, and confirm our relationship with God (John 16:8–13). If we defy the work of the Holy Spirit, we have no access to the source of forgiveness. The only unforgivable sin is the sin that will not respond to the Spirit that would lead to forgiveness.

Part of what the Holy Spirit does is what church-speak calls “convicting us”.  That’s nothing like being convicted of a crime.  Although, ironically, ignoring those “convicting” calls can eventually lead us to be convicted of the unforgivable sin.

Really, being “convicted” by the Holy Spirit is an urging from God to do something for Him.  Sometimes it’s quite clear.  Other times, it’s more like a nagging feeling that we should do something, we know it’s the right thing to do, but we really don’t want to do it.  And so we tell God – not me.  Have someone else do it.

For a whole lot more on that, I just published Blessed are the pure in heart, which looks at some of the Old Testament “heroes” and how they had that very feeling.  Like Moses, for example.  The objective is to see how we, in spite of pushing against the Holy Spirit, can still have a pure heart in the eyes of God when we do finally take on the tasks He has for us.

Conclusion – Don’t procrastinate

Not procrastinating is really just one part of the way Christians should live.  Everything we do, we should do for God.  That ties procrastination into everything we do.

To make that more clear, with examples, consider something Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus.

Living as Children of Light

Eph 4:17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.

Eph 4:20 You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21 Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Eph 4:25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

Eph 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ultimately, sometimes don’t procrastinate means do “it” now –  don’t wait – whatever “it” happens to be for you.

But other times don’t procrastinate means stop doing “it” now – don’t wait – whatever “it happens to be for you.

Either way, when the Holy Spirit prompts us to do something He wants us to do something for God – or to stop doing something we know is wrong – let’s try not to procrastinate.


Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay


References   [ + ]

1. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 177). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
2.Heer, K. (2007). Luke: A Commentary for Bible Students (pp. 177–178). Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House.

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