One of the most common attributes shared by humans is procrastination, which is defined as the action of delaying or postponing something. We see this in virtually every aspect of life. Students wait until the last minute to study for an exam, or to write a term paper. Taxpayers put off filing their income tax returns as long as possible. Husbands delay working on their “honey do” lists until it cannot be avoided any longer. There are no good reasons for our procrastination, but still we do it time after time.
When we procrastinate we typically end up paying some kind of unpleasant price for having done so. A student who puts off preparing for an exam until the last minute will often get a poorer grade than if he had prepared ahead of time. Taxpayers who put off filing their tax returns may make mistakes that can cost them large amounts of money, or they may incur a penalty because their return arrived late. A husband who delays working on his “honey do” list, may incur the displeasure of his wife. In addition to these unpleasant consequences, a habitual procrastinator often gets a reputation that marks him as undependable.
The consequences of procrastination in our secular affairs can be damaging to us, but when we procrastinate in spiritual matters, the consequences can be catastrophic. There are two important reasons why this is so. First, there is the fragile nature of life. Most of us go about our lives as though we will live forever. We know this is not the case, but we act as if not thinking about our mortality will postpone it. The scriptures teach us otherwise, however. In Jas. 4:14 James said, “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” We must not put off obedience to the gospel, because our lives may end at any moment.
Second, we must not put off obedience to the gospel because we do not know when the Lord will return for judgment. The fact that the Lord is coming back to judge the world is plainly taught in the scriptures. The parable of the ten virgins and the parable of the talents each teach the reality of judgment, and the Lord followed these parables with a specific reference to judgment in Mt. 25:31-46. However, the Lord does not want us to procrastinate in our preparation for judgment. In Mt. 24:36, speaking of His return for judgment, the Lord said, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” Because we do not know when the Lord will return, we must not put off obeying the gospel.
The scriptures are clear that men and women in the first century did not put off their obedience to the gospel once they understood what they must do in order to be saved. In Acts 2:41, three thousand who believed the message of the apostles that day were immediately baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. In Acts 16, a jailer in Philippi was baptized by Paul and Silas just as soon as he understood what he must do to be saved, even though it was well after midnight. These, and other examples, show us that there must be no procrastination when it comes to being saved. We must act immediately in obedience to the teaching of God’s word.
We may procrastinate in every other area of life, but we must not procrastinate in response to the call of God to be saved. God desires that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4). Therefore, as Ananias told Saul of Tarsus, “Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.”