Procrastination is a problem we all deal with. Most of us think all procrastination is the same, but it actually comes in various forms. For now, let’s think about the procrastination that comes from counting on tomorrow.
Many of us fail to make the most of today because we think we are guaranteed another day. There’s no need to aim high today, we think, because we have an unlimited supply of days full of opportunities.
Solomon frowned on this attitude saying, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring” (Prov. 27:1).
James put it this way:
Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (James 4:13-17)
We tend to read verse 17 separately. It makes a handy proof-text that way: “Isn’t teaching the lost the ‘right thing to do?’ If you don’t do it, you’re sinning!” “Don’t you think forgiving that person is the ‘right thing to do?’ If you don’t do it, you have sinned!” The problem is, there is an infinite number of “right things to do,” and we can’t do them all at the same time. Given the logic behind this interpretation of James 4:17, there’s no way not to sin!
What if James meant for verse 17 to go along with what he had been saying about arrogantly counting on tomorrow? In this context, verse 17 means, “Whoever knows the right thing to do [now] and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” It’s sinful to waste the opportunities of today, counting on the ghost of tomorrow.
Leroy Brownlow said, “Today is the golden opportunity, tomorrow the silvery chance, and the next day the brazen impossibility, and the day beyond that the iron impossibility.”
Why do we count on tomorrow? We’re afraid of today. And why are we afraid of today? Because we’re not ready to act today. And why are we not ready to act today? Because we haven’t prepared for the day by considering what’s important in life. And why haven’t we taken time to consider what’s important? Because we’ve made idols out of the things in life that keep us so busy. And why do we worship idols? Because we believe they can bring us fulfillment.
The trick to “redeeming the time” as Paul puts it (Eph. 5:16) is putting God first. When you do that, you pause to consider his will for your life—what you should be doing with your days. This brings confidence, and when you have confidence, you will not be afraid of today, and you won’t count on tomorrow.
Only God can bring us true peace and wellbeing. Put him first. Don’t wait till tomorrow. You are a mist. You don’t have that kind of time.