Is Procrastination a Sin?
- Yes, absolutely. Our time and talents are gift from God and not to be wasted.
- God hardwired each of us with different personalities and some people work better under pressure.
- Let me get back to this after I’ve had coffee and cleared off my desk.
For 20 years, I have been married to a procrastinator. My husband is a laid-back, creative explorer, and the last minute has his signature on it.
I am a to-do-list loving, organized captain of the parental ship that keeps our 5 children afloat and the house running smoothly. Just the thought of putting a project off until the very end causes a cold sweat to break out on my upper lip.
We could chalk this up to personality differences, or typical marital conflict to be hashed out, but does God have an opinion about procrastination? Is procrastination a sin? Or more to my spousal curiosity, is God telling my husband to cut out his bad behavior?
Procrastination is defined as “the act of willfully delaying the doing of something that should be done,” or another, “to put off doing something, especially out of habitual carelessness or laziness.” While the word “procrastinate” is not specifically in the Bible, Colossians 3:23 (ESV) tells us, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” The book of Proverbs has much to say about the importance of hard work and is especially stern about laziness, such as Proverbs 12:24, “The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor.” God highly values our work and expects us to do it to the best of our ability.
The answer: A. Yes, procrastination is a sin. Our time and talents are indeed gifts from God and not to be wasted. When we put tasks off until the last minute, doing our best work is rarely the result.
We schedulers of the world are this moment tempted to hold our calendars as shields and wave our to-do lists as banners with a cheer of, “See, we told you so!” Yet the procrastination dilemma is not quite so easily solved.
When life does not go according to my carefully color-coded plans (as happens mostly always), I become ugly. I snap at my kids, boss around my husband as if he were a child, sigh a lot, and say things like, “Fine! I’ll just do it myself!” in unloving ways.
What is behind procrastination? Perfectionism. Pride. Overscheduling. Anger. Fear.
What is behind my hyper-zealous schedule management? Perfectionism. Pride. Overscheduling. Anger. Fear.
Humble me, Lord.
In John 8:1-11, the Pharisees and scribes bring a woman to Jesus who had committed adultery, with the plan to stone her to death and test Jesus’ teaching. Verses 7-8 (ESV) say, “And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, ‘Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.’ And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one.”
The Bible does not record what Jesus wrote in the dust. Was it the names of the men who had committed adultery with this woman? Perhaps it was the names of the men standing right there with stones in their hands? Or perhaps it was a record of their own unique personal sins?
My impatient sighs are a stone. My judgmental assumptions about my husband’s procrastination tendencies are a stone. Perhaps you see my organized ways as too controlling or taking the fun out of life. That is your stone. Stepping in to rescue, fix, or appease someone else’s situation is also a stone. My job is to empathize but not to solve what is not mine. Jesus is calling you to drop your stone.
The times you have been judged for putting a project off and scrambling to get it done, Jesus speaks to you as he did to the woman kneeling in the dust. For the situations where you have been accused of being an uptight control freak, Jesus comes to you.
For our perfectionism, pride, overscheduling, anger, and fear, Jesus comes to us.
“Jesus stood up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.’” (John 8:10-11)
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