Many of us are tempted to procrastinate when it comes to dealing with certain problems in our daily lives. We often procrastinate knowing full well that ignoring problems and hoping that they will go away often just serves to make them even worse. Who among us can honestly say that we haven’t been there and done that a time or two?
But when it comes to eternity, procrastination can be devastating. The time that we each have in this life to settle where, how, and with whom we will spend eternity is really quite limited. Time flies, as the saying goes. It is with good reason that the Psalmist writes,
So teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12, ESV)
In asking the Lord to “teach us to number our days” (emphasis mine) the Psalmist shows us that numbering our days does not come naturally to us. We always seem to assume that tomorrow is somehow guaranteed to us. It is not, at least not in this life.
In his commentary in the book of Acts, Derek Thomas writes,
“Souls are lost by reason of procrastination. Awakened consciences that fail to make good their resolve to find peace with God discover that before they realize it, they have fallen even deeper into the mire of sin. Thinking that they can turn to God “at any time,” they discover that they are unable to do so.” (p.673)
He is speaking there of the example of the Roman Governor Felix in Acts chapter 24. Felix was very familiar with Christianity. In v.22 Luke writes that Felix had “a rather accurate knowledge of the Way.” Not only had he heard the gospel explained to him on numerous occasions (v.26), but he had heard it from no less a preacher than the Apostle Paul himself! Paul spoke to him about “righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment” (v.25). Paul did not beat around the bush.
What did Felix do with that knowledge? What was his response to the gospel of Christ? He procrastinated; he simply put it off. As far as we know, he never repented & turned to Christ by faith. While he was “alarmed” (v.25) by Paul’s mention of the judgment to come, he wasn’t “alarmed” enough to actually turn from his sin and turn to Christ by faith. Rather, he turned from hearing the gospel at all, telling Paul, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you” (v.26).
In other words, not now – maybe later. He just assumed that he could put it off until later. He assumed that he would always have an “opportunity” (v.26) to hear the gospel and believe later, whenever he got around to it. How many today are of a very similar mindset?
Maybe that even describes you?
It is not without reason that the Scripture says, “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2, ESV). As the writer of Hebrews (quoting Psalm 95) warns us, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 3:7-8, ESV). Did you catch that? To “hear his voice” in the gospel of Christ and to reject it or put it off is to harden your heart. In other words, procrastination is not a neutral posture. Indecision about Jesus Christ is itself a decision, and it has consequences.
As the example of Felix serves to demonstrate, hearing the gospel is not enough. Hearing it numerous times is not enough. Being familiar with the faith is not enough. Even being alarmed at the thought of the judgment to come is not enough if it does not lead to repentance and faith in Christ Jesus.
If you are not yet a believer in Jesus Christ, turn to Him by faith while there is yet time. Today, if you hear His voice in the gospel, do not harden your heart by indecision and procrastination. Come to Him and have life that is abundant (John 10:10) and eternal (John 17:3). As the Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:20-21,
We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake He made Him who knew no sin to be sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Don’t just fear the coming judgment –be delivered from it by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ! Be reconciled to God in Him!