What does the Bible say about procrastination? Actually a lot. There are 86,400 seconds in every day and God has made each of us with a plan and a purpose.
Procrastination is a mindset. It is the condition of the mind that says “I’ll do it tomorrow.” or “I just don’t feel like it right now. When we procrastinate, we put off something important in exchange for doing something else, even if that thing is nothing at all. Think about it. If you choose to do nothing, technically you are still choosing to do something.
In this article, we are going to look at what the bible says about the dangers of procrastination. Not only will we dive into procrastination bible verses, but also explain some very important contextual points and valuable lessons we can learn from scripture.
If you’re asking “What does the Bible say about procrastination?” you are probably wanting to be more productive in life. That’s great because God wants the same for you. The Heavenly Father wants to lead you to a place of success. Are you willing to follow?
When we procrastinate, we delay the God-ordained destiny in our lives. Sometimes we take the lazy approach. This is the “I just don’t feel like it”. Other times we mask it with busyness. This is the “I’d love to do it. If only I can get this (fill in the blank) out of the way, then I’ll pursue my calling in life.
There are a lot of things reasons that we put off our destiny but it almost always is due to fear. It is much easier to wish and hope than to take action. Taking action really means having faith.
There are many bible verses that you can point to that warn of the dangers of procrastination. In the New Testament, we see a strong sense of urgency grow from the Gospels through the Book of Revelation. This was the generation that would see the fall of the temple as described in Matthew 24.
Perhaps one of the most sobering statements about procrastination in the Bible is Jesus’ words in Luke 9. The Bible accounts for several men procrastinating instead of following him.
59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” 62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
Luke 9:59 – 62
This may sound shocking but Jesus laid out a standard. The time of the end of the age was near and Christians wouldn’t have the luxury of procrastination. That is why the biblical time statements grew more and more urgent.
The Apostle Paul encouraged the Galatians not to grow tired and keep going. When times get tough, procrastination can be a defense mechanism for us.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
He told the Hebrew church that things would be difficult, but worth it. Have you ever pushed yourself to do something you knew was the right thing only to be glad you did?
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
The zealous Apostle Paul also urged the Ephesians to make the most of every opportunity in the tough period they were living in.
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
The Apostle James, who was notorious for not sugar coating anything shared that it is a flat-out sin to delay doing something that is right.
If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
These Scriptures are just a handful of what does the Bible say about procrastination. Perhaps the most direct statements and teachings on procrastination in the Bible can be found in the Book of Proverbs. King Solomon is who wrote most of the Book of Proverbs. He is thought to be the richest and wisest man that ever existed. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon states it clearly. Inactivity leads to losing the reward of the fruits of your labor.
Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.
One of the most taboo subjects in our modern times is calling something a sin. In some ways, the church does a poor job with our reaction to the subject. Either we do not want to offend others and stay silent or respond with condemnation, judgement, and scorn. Neither is productive.
Before we answer the question “is procrastination a sin”, lets first define the word. Sin derives from the Greek word hamartia. Hamartia has a meaning that will hopefully shed so light on this touchy subject and even change how you look at your own shortcomings.
Hamartia means simply to “miss the mark” Think about shooting a bow and arrow and there is a target to hit. What happens when you miss the target? Hopefully you take another shot.
I am not trying to lessen the impact or seriousness of sin. Sin has consequences. However, God’s standard is a target for our lives. Sometimes we hit it. Other times we don’t. When we don’t, we sin.
So by that definition, is procrastination a sin? Yes. Procrastination is a sin in that it misses the mark of God’s best for your life. The dangers of procrastination in the bible show that delaying doing what is right can lead to unnecessary loss.
Arguably, the most impactful depiction of the dangers of procrastination in the bible is found in Proverbs 24.
Warning: The text will kick your butt.
What does the bible say about procrastination? In Proverbs 24, King Solomon describes passing by a field and making an interesting observation about the landowner. In this case, he refers to them as a “sluggard”, which means a lazy person. Doubling down, the author states that they have no sense. Both go together because sluggards procrastinate.
In Proverbs 24, Solomon describes passing by a field and making an interesting observation about the landowner. In this case, he refers to them as a “sluggard”, which means a lazy person. Doubling down, the author states that they have no sense. Both go together because sluggards procrastinate. Procrastination is a mindset. It is the condition of the mind that says “I’ll do it tomorrow.” or “I just don’t feel like it right now.”
I went past the field of a sluggard, past the vineyard of someone who has no sense; 31 thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins. 32 I applied my heart to what I observedand learned a lesson from what I saw: 33 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— 34 and poverty will come on you like a thiefand scarcity like an armed man.
Proverbs 24:30 – 34
Same as today, being a landowner in almost every society generally equates to affluence. In Solomon’s time, a field could be a source of personal wealth and a farmer could reap a harvest from crops. The land could hold herds of livestock. Ultimately, there are many great uses for the land that we could consider. Unfortunately, despite all the potential, the landowner’s laziness has gotten the best of him. He chooses not to care for his property and it brings him dishonor in the eyes of the passerby.
One of the dangers of procrastination is unfruitfulness. Thorns and weeds on any land hinder growth. If they are not removed, eventually the land will yield very few plants of value.
We see in the Parable of the Sower that seeds cast amongst thorns do not produce fruit because the thorns choke out the other plants. Thorns and weeds are the results of inaction and what grows by default. Similarly, our lives resemble the world around us.
Without the proper attention and disciplined effort, our potential is never reached. Our life’s version of thorns and weeds are things like excuses, disappointments, shying away from uncomfortable situations and even the false belief that we have all the time in the world. A field that goes unattended produces nothing. A life that goes unattended also rarely yields good fruit.
Jesus wants us the bear fruit in our lives so that the world knows we are His disciples.
Another Proverb 24 example of the dangers of procrastination is vulnerability. Fences and walls are meant to act as protection for us. They act as a deterrent of external threats from infiltrating our territory. The landowner’s fences had deteriorated to the point of being in ruins. This no doubt left his land vulnerable.
Procrastination and laziness also leave us unguarded. When we neglect what we know we should do, our confidence and self-worth take a hit. An undisciplined mind is easily infiltrated by the plethora of negative in this world. There is no shortage of people who say you can’t make it in life. When our lives aren’t in order, it is easy to get into a situation where we are unprepared and suffer loss.
In closing, as we pointed to earlier, Solomon makes an effort to predict laziness, and procrastination will lead to poverty and scarcity as if you were robbed by an armed attacker. This is a sudden and abrupt loss.
One of the inevitable dangers of procrastination is that it will lead to a loss. While procrastination is made up of an inability to make small decisions to be productive, eventually the sluggard is met with the day when they are unprepared for a challenge. This lack of readiness can lead to destruction and complete loss.
Consider that procrastination is a series of small convenient compromises over time that can lead to a single moment of devastating inconvenience. For example, the person who does not care for their health, may not feel sick for years, but eventually could face a disease that alters the course of their life. An employee could do just enough to keep his or her job only to have new management come in and review performance. The lack of work ethic could result in unemployment. The individual that feels called by God to do something may hold back due to fear or doubt.
It is easier to put things off until tomorrow but with procrastination, our destiny can be at stake.
Proverbs 24 is not the only bible chapter that teaches about procrastination. Here are some more.
Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth. Proverbs 10:4
Inaction leads to lack. God does not want you to be lacking anything.
Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in forced labor. Proverbs 12:24
Procrastination will eventually result in being forced to do what’s right.
A sluggard’s appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied. Proverbs 13:4
A good way to ensure that you live a life where you feel unfulfilled is to procrastinate.
Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. Proverbs 27:1
All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. Proverbs 14:23
Yikes! How many of us love to talk about what we are going to do yet only putting in the work will lead us to accomplishment.
One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys.
Delaying the pursuit of our destiny is a destructive behavior in our lives and to those that depend on us.
Sluggards do not plow in season, so at harvest time they look but find nothing. Proverbs 20:4
Your work today is to the benefit of life tomorrow. Your life today is the result of yesterday’s choices. Get started!
Whoever loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and olive oil will never be rich. Proverbs 21:17
Are you filling the voids in your heart with pleasures and time fillers? Riches come with prioritizing your life.
While many of these verses can be tough to swallow, especially for those of use who have procrastinated, don’t worry! All of us have made this mistake, but God is faithful!
Here is a verse that for me brings it all together.
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
In Matthew 6, Jesus gives us an amazing promise. When we choose to put God first everything falls into place. In some translations, it says “everything will be added to your life”.
You may have procrastinated for a long time on things you should have done. Welcome to the club! We all have made mistakes. The great thing is that time is nothing to God. If you choose to put your focus on Him today, as the most important part of your life, He is faithful to restore the years of delay.
If you skipped down to this part you’ll definitely want to go back and read Proverbs 24.
Ultimately, God can accelerate any circumstance and even you have procrastinated until now it’s not too late. We are here at Sound of Heaven to help you get on track. Starting today, in the metaphor and proper context of Proverbs 24, here are some action steps that you can take today.
Don’t procrastinate any longer! Contact Sound of Heaven
Here is a book that I have personally read several times that I believe will be a huge help to you if you are looking to break the cycle of fear and frustration that leads to inactivity.
The recommended follow up resource to learning about the dangers of procrastination is the book “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway” by Susan Jeffers Ph.D.
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