For the past year or so, our son and his family have lived next door to us. Their proximity has been wonderful (for me at least), as I’ve been able to see them and our three grandchildren virtually every day, sometimes only as they went in or out of the house or drove in or out of the driveway. Regardless, it has been wonderful having them nearby. That will change in six weeks or so when they move into the house they’re purchasing across town. They’ll still be only ten-to-fifteen minutes away, so I neither solicit nor expect sympathy. Still, our lives will change. There is some regret that we did not take full advantage of the closeness. We expected to avail ourselves of more opportunities to drop in on each other. But I was lulled into carelessness by the thought that the opportunity I missed today would be available tomorrow. After all, look how close they are and how easily we can visit. Day-by-day those thoughts comforted and deceived me—until now when these very easy opportunities are almost over. (I hasten to state that our son and his wife were not party to the lost opportunities. We did take advantage of many more occasions to be together than might otherwise have been the case. And we were always invited and always made welcome.) Still, what might-have-been as opposed to what actually was is poignantly clear.
You do not care about my family relationships, I understand. I only give this lengthy personal account to illustrate the subtle deceit of complacency and procrastination. Opportunities missed do not return. And as sad as that may be on a natural level, it is devastating on the spiritual plane. For a complacent attitude and procrastinating behavior toward the things of God are actually sin. When we excuse our inaction regarding obeying some scriptural injunction or performing some ministerial service on the basis of finding a more propitious time to do it, we are rebelling, usurping God’s place, and serving our own desires.
Procrastination is just a five-syllable word for sin. It follows hard on the heels of complacency. I have never heard anyone say, “I wish I had never done the Lord’s will.” Or, “I wish I had never obeyed the Word of God.” But I have heard many people (myself among them) express regret for putting off until too late what they knew to do.
While being written in a different context, the urging of the writer of the Hebrew letter retains wide application for believers today: “But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (3:13). Yesterday is gone forever. Tomorrow may not come. Good intentions become lost opportunities. Every choice has eternal consequences. All too often we suffer from the same malady as the unbelieving “scoffers” in Peter’s day who asked, “Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (II Pet. 3:4). “We have time,” they said, in effect, “there’s always tomorrow.” But at some point there ceases to be a tomorrow for all of us—whether because of death or the rapture; and opportunities to honor God and reap eternal blessing will end.
What personal issue has the Holy Spirit through His Word been dealing with you about? What sin have you refused to confess and forsake? What service have you promised to get to for so many successive tomorrows that you are ashamed to think about it? What loved one may be ready to step out into eternity without ever hearing a gospel testimony from your lips?
The calendar cannot be turned back even one day. Be faithful today.
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