Many of us struggle with internal discipline and I am no exception.
At one point, I considered running for President of the Procrastinators Club of North America, but I never got around to it.
But seriously, folks, if you think about it, if God exists outside of time and He is eternal, He’s got all the time in the… well, in the universe. Technically, that’s not even accurate. God has all the time there is in infinity.
So, God is not constrained by time. God has never been too early or too late for anything. His timing is always perfect, and yet, we humans are constantly praying for Him to do things quickly. The Bible is chock-full or verses urging God to act quickly.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)
But as for me, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; you are my God, do not delay. Psalm 40:17 (NIV)
Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name. Daniel 9:19 (NIV)
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had much success telling God to do things according to my time schedule. Now, maybe Peter, David, and Daniel had a little more clout with the Almighty than I do, but I’m thinking those verses are more examples of our LORD being mercifully willing to put up with human impatience than Him adjusting His schedule to fit ours.
So, even though God is not constrained by time and we are made in His image, that doesn’t mean we have an eternity to get things done. The Bible is also very clear about procrastination:
Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap. Ecclesiastes 11:4 (NIV)
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. Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)
As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. John 9:4 (NIV)
Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys. Proverbs 18:9 (ESV)
So, how does one develop the discipline to stop procrastinating? How do we get up off the couch, switch the TV off, and just do what we know should be done?
Some years ago, my lovely wife (who has a work ethic of legendary proportions and a zero-tolerance policy for lame excuses) taught me a phrase she acquired at some point in her upbringing which perfectly and succinctly summarizes all of the Biblical wisdom on procrastination:
“Suck it up, Buttercup.”
She was using this phrase long before that fancy big-shot sneaker company stole it and modified it into the much milder and less punchy, “Just do it. ®” slogan.
Yes, it works for them and a bunch of guys who get paid millions of dollars to play with balls of various shapes and sizes, (and to whom I would never refer to as “Buttercup” to their faces) but somehow the negative air pressure floral slogan works as a better catch-phrase in my little corner of His Kingdom than some trendy swoosh-mark emblazoned on my tenny runners.
Perhaps it’s a bit too harsh for many of you, but when I have serious TV-face and, right after the commercial break I will find out what 100 people surveyed named as a body part they most often scratched (As reruns of “Family Feud” are my witness, I am not making that up.) I absolutely need something powerful and motivating to tear myself away from those mindless flickering pixels.
The apostle James didn’t pull any punches on this one:
If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. James 4:17 (NIV)
The glorious and wonderful (and often miraculous) part is that if I am obedient and faithful and just start doing what I know I should do, the Holy Spirit comes along and seems to fill in all the blanks and brings it to completion –and the result is to His glory, not mine!
“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done” Revelation 22:12 (NIV).