What Does the Bible Say About Procrastination?

Do you put things off until the last minute? Struggle to get things done on time and always find yourself rushing? 

Fear not, the Bible has a lot to say about procrastination – and don’t worry – the overall takeaway isn’t that you’re a terrible person destined for failure. But it does warn against it, and in general, the Bible speaks highly of hard work and discipline.

Procrastination in Proverbs

Procrastination can be the result of laziness, sloth, and slackness – a few things the Bible most certainly speaks to, most notably in Proverbs. Proverbs is a book most believe to be written primarily by King Solomon. It’s full of general wisdom and instruction for living a fulfilled life.

The Book of Proverbs speaks to procrastination and hard work in a few places:

The hand of the diligent will rule,

while the slothful will be mput to forced labor.

  • Proverbs 12:24

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing,

while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.

  • Proverbs 13:4

The way of a sluggard is like a hedge of thorns,

but the path of the upright is a level highway.

  • Proverbs 15:19

Whoever is slack in his work

is a brother to him who destroys.

  • Proverbs 18:9

Those who work hard will live a full life, while the lazy will lack. And one key to hard work and defeating procrastination is diligence.

It’s important to recognize though that the book of Proverbs isn’t just a book of wisdom. It speaks frequently about Wisdom as a person, which many believe points to the person of Jesus. 

Jesus is wisdom personified. So the path to wisdom isn’t necessarily buckling down and making sure we follow closely all the tenants laid out in Proverbs, but to seek the person of Jesus, and grow in wisdom as we grow more like Him.

Procrastination in the New Testament

Later on the New Testament, Paul moves on to the heart of the matter in Colossians – a church many scholars believed had members who didn’t want to work and often procrastinated.

Paul says:

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”

  • Colossians 2:23

He commends us to work hard and with our hearts. Our hard work should stem not from a desire to hustle and build and make money, but from a desire to serve God.

The way we work should point to Him and reflect Him. And rest assured, God works hard (though He rests hard, too).

Later on in a letter to the church at Thessalonica, Paul says:

“For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.”

  • 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12

Paul differentiates between being a “busybody” and hard work. We are meant to work and provide for ourselves and others if possible – not to glean from others and hide under the shade of their work.

Other Mentions of Procrastination in the Bible

In addition to Proverbs and Paul’s commendations in Colossians and Thessalonians, there are a few other mentions of procrastination in the Bible not specifically having to do with work. But there’s one central message across the board:

Don’t Wait.

Here are some places and scenarios this message is mentioned:

  • Don’t procrastinate reconciling with a brother or sister (Matthew 5:23-24)
  • Don’t procrastinate dealing with your anger (Ephesians 4:26)
  • Don’t procrastinate encouraging and exhorting others (Hebrews 3:13)
  • Don’t procrastinate sharing the Gospel with the lost (Luke 14:21)
  • Don’t procrastinate living a Holy life (Luke 12:40)

There’s one other Bible passage we want to mention from the book of James.

In James 4, James is urging followers of Jesus not to boast about tomorrow or to presume what their lives will look like in the future. He tells us our lives are like a mist, here today and gone tomorrow. He encourages us to live for today, and allow God to establish our next steps.

“Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”

  • James 4:13-17

The Bible Says to Avoid Procrastination

The Bible is clear from start to finish: don’t procrastinate. The Bible instructs us to work hard, to work heartily, and to never delay that which we know we should do.

From working hard in daily tasks to reconciling with friends – procrastination is never the answer. It will only lead to consequences and a less-than

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