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The Cost of Procrastination

We continue with this short series on the nature of self-control.

In the first episode we discussed the need for self-control, and last week we opened up the ugly can of worms known as procrastination.

If you recall, we are making the argument that procrastination is simply another term for being lazy. It is just more acceptable sounding than being called lazy.

So we began to look at this sin and we saw the actions and attitudes of the lazy person.

Now you may remember that we were building from the lesser to the greater in describing this sin. So today we will actually turn it up a bit and look at the more serious issues related to this type of lack of self-control.

The Cost of Procrastination:

- Procrastination destroys your reputation.

To say that you shall do something, and then not do it due to procrastination is simply a lie. Can we simply accept that as being true? It may not start out as a lie, but it becomes one.

It is like those who love the bankruptcy laws as a way to escape paying their debts. They sign for loans and credit cards and fully intend to pay the debts, until it is hard to do so, then we find out that their word is not quite as good as we thought.

Find one given to procrastination, and you will find one whose word is taken lightly, if at all. Let’s look at some passages related to this:

In Matthew 5 Jesus is speaking of the taking of oaths:

"Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, 'YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.' But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your statement be, 'Yes, yes ' or 'No, no'; anything beyond these is of evil." (Matt. 5:33-37)

This is a much discussed passage on oath-taking and is frequently miss-understood or miss-quoted. The point is how the people became clever in taking oaths so as to leave themselves an escape clause.  Sort of like children saying, “But my fingers were crossed.”  Jesus is saying that when you say you will do something you are now committed to it.

What is interesting to note, however, is how often the tendency is for one who procrastinates to make oaths and promises.  The reason is that they already know they are given to unfaithfulness so they are trying to convince you that they are serious this time.

Jesus, however, tells us to let our yes or no be enough.  To do this assumes you are a person of integrity. It only takes but a few moments of unfaithfulness to destroy what is so difficult to create—a godly, faithful reputation.

This is why an elder is a man who is to be above reproach.  He is to be a man of his word, one others can depend upon, faithfully living out his life before the church as an example of all to follow.

This is also why the longer you allow procrastination to rule your heart and actions the longer it will be for people to trust you have changed.  There are people we know that will require a very long time before we will truly believe they have turned from this sin.

Finally, the longer you allow this sin to be a defining part of your life the harder it is to break it and bring it under control.  There are always exceptions, of course, but you will find this to be the norm.

We pointed out in a prior episode that Proverbs 15:19 says that the way of the lazy is a hedge of thorns.  You can apply this passage to most sins that are life-dominating or defining. The longer you live in the “hedge” so-to-speak, the deeper in you go and the harder it is to get out.

This is a point of note for parents. Start early and be diligent in addressing a child that procrastinates.  Do not honor it for it is deadly. 

1 Corinthians 4:1-5

"Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts; and then each man's praise will come to him from God."

The point of vs 5 is not to make all judgment null and void, for he says the opposite in the very next chapter.  Rather, it is judging his work for the Lord as a minister of the gospel.

Do not miss that point. There are some things that you just need to leave alone and let them play out.  Hasty judgment can be destructive. But there are other things that should be judged quickly, things that are clearly sinful. 

Which is why Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6 that he has already judged the man who was living in sin with his step-mother.

The greater question for us is what has God given you to be a steward of? Many will say very little. However, if you think about it every one of us has much we are responsible for.





Spiritual life.

The gospel.

What is your reputation?  What is your plan to develop a godly reputation? 

We hope you will continue through this series and find some help in addressing self-control But right now we are still working on revealing this sin, so hang in there.

- Procrastination harms you and your family.

This is one of the most painful things to watch.  Example: When a home is systematically dismantled due to laziness.

One way this is done is through loss of income, or the lack of needed resources due to your lack of diligence. Demotions and unemployment are hard on the household.

A second is through a lack of diligence and faithfulness in the training of your children.

Proverbs 19:18—oh that parents would take heed to this.

"Discipline your son while there is hope, And do not desire his death."

Proverbs 13:24—more, much more than merely spanking.

"He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently."

It is constrained and defined by a godly purpose.

It means you have to stop what you are doing to do what you should be doing. 

It means that there is an embracing of this responsibility rather than a reluctant touching of it.

Requires diligence—taking a long view. Discipline in any situation is driven by faith.

Proverbs 29:15

"The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother."

Notice the contrast here. Wisdom or shame. It is one or the other that will be the fruit of a parent’s labors, but this takes diligence. You cannot parent well if you are busy putting off what needs to be done.

Proverbs 19:15

"Laziness casts into a deep sleep, And an idle man will suffer hunger."

It ultimately brings need to you and your household, but this need is brought to you in a shameful manner.

It speaks to the evil of much of what we call welfare. This is also a key reason why we do not personally have a food pantry.  We find it promotes laziness rather than diligence.

Proverbs 29:17

"Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; He will also delight your soul."

Just as a faithfully trained child brings comfort and delight, so one you failed to train brings no comfort and a sad heart.

What happens so often in the hearts of too many parents is the fear that the child will hate them or avoid them.  This simply is not the case when you practice a faithful, consistent and loving discipline.

Side note, self-control is such a key item to train your children in.  It has such far reaching effects.

Teach them to subjugate their desires to what is right. 

Teach them to subjugate their emotions to what is good and proper.

Don't let them get away with doing what is wrong, what is strictly an impulse, what is strictly a reaction of their emotions, what is their desire be it right or wrong. Don't let them flaunt that.

Don't let them throw tantrums. Don't let them do that. Confine them to a self-disciplined pattern with love. Train them to eat because it is good and right, not merely because they like it.

- Procrastination prevents you from having critical things when most needed.

Wisdom = biblical knowledge skillfully applied.

Proverbs 1:22-30

"How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing And fools hate knowledge? Turn to my reproof, Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. Because I called and you refused, I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention; And you neglected all my counsel And did not want my reproof; I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes, When your dread comes like a storm And your calamity comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you. Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently but they will not find me, Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD. They would not accept my counsel, They spurned all my reproof."

Proverbs 24:30-34

"I passed by the field of the sluggard And by the vineyard of the man lacking sense, And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles; Its surface was covered with nettles, And its stone wall was broken down. When I saw, I reflected upon it; I looked, and received instruction. 'A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest,' Then your poverty will come as a robber and your want like an armed man."

Procrastination is poison to your soul.

Time is either our friend or our enemy.

Procrastination always tells you there is more time, and it is a vicious lie that we too often believe. 

Deuteronomy 32:29

“Would that they were wise, that they understood this, That they would discern their future!”

To understand this requires that we understand the context. This is a song God gave to Moses to teach the nation prior to entering into the promised land.

To understand this requires that we understand the context. This is a song God gave to Moses to teach the nation prior to entering into the promised land.

If you read the prior 28 verses you find that it recounts God’s faithfulness, but also the reality of Israel’s unfaithfulness.

And in vs 29 it is simply saying, “Oh, I wish you would not forget these words. That you would maintain a level of self-control and remain faithful.”

Psalm 39:4

"LORD, make me to know my end And what is the extent of my days; Let me know how transient I am."

This is something that we truly need divine help, for we are easily distracted.  Which is why the writer is asking God to help him to know his end.

How often are your decisions made in light of the end of your life?

"Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, 'I have no delight in them;'" (Ecc. 12:1)

Proverbs 27:1 

"Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth."

This is an important passage. 

Jonathan Edwards made some very powerful observations on this text that still apply today:

We cannot boast in what is not ours, and time is something we do not possess.

To assume there is a tomorrow is to assume that you can grasp the wind.  What makes it so deadly is that “tomorrow” has come so often already that we assume there is another tomorrow.

How many have thought that tomorrow is something that they deserve, or shall see?

How many are depending on the hope that there shall be a tomorrow?

According to this Proverb we are to live lives that assume nothing beyond what we have in this present moment.  We should live now without depending upon another day.


For some, perhaps you have heard a description of yourself. If so, we hope that you see it for what it is. It is sin that your Lord does not desire for you and your life.

May you begin even now to repent. The wonderful thing in seeing this as a controlling sin in your life is that through Christ there is forgiveness and the power to change. So you don’t have to beat yourself up over it; rather, you can confess it knowing that forgiveness is promised.

May we also counsel you to find one faithful person who you would put yourself under to be held accountable. Do not be foolish and think that this time will be any different than the last 1000 times.  Find a person and humble yourself.


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