What Does the Bible Say About Procrastination?
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What Does the Bible Say About Procrastination?

Procrastination is something many of us struggle with. We know we should be doing something, but we put it off again and again. This habit can negatively impact our lives and relationships with God. But what does the Bible say about procrastination? There is much biblical wisdom to help us overcome this tendency and live purposefully for God’s glory.

Key Takeaways:

  • Procrastination shows a lack of self-control and focus.
  • It is disobedient when we procrastinate on God-given responsibilities.
  • Procrastination often stems from fear and lack of faith in God’s provision.
  • We must redeem the time and not delay in doing good.
  • Intentionality and seeking God’s strength help overcome procrastination.

As Christians, procrastination inhibits what God wants to do through our lives. Thankfully, scripture gives us guidance and encouragement to overcome this destructive habit. Examining biblical truths and examples helps us better understand procrastination and equips us to conquer it through God’s power at work within us.

What Does Procrastination Reveal About Us?

Procrastination reveals a lot about our spiritual condition and relationship with God. At its core, needless delay in completing important tasks or making decisions shows a lack of self-control and proper priorities. As James 1:8 (NKJV) states:

A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.

When you constantly put off what needs done today, your actions display a scattered focus and misaligned values. The spirit may be willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41 NKJV). Starting important projects, assignments, or decisions again and again indicates a lack of discipline and proper self-management.

Procrastination also reveals issues of misplaced identity and fear of man. When you delay acting on what you know God wants you to do, it shows you care more about the possible opinions of others than obedience to God. You essentially elevate man’s temporary thoughts above the eternal purposes of God.

Jesus summed it up this way in Luke 9:62 (NKJV):

No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

When we know the right thing to do but fail to act promptly, it indicates a heart issue that is preventing wholehearted service to God.

Procrastination is Disobedience

Delaying what we know God wants us to do is disobedience, plain and simple. Procrastination shows a lack of trust in God’s wisdom and sufficiency. It is essentially saying we know better than God how and when something should be done.

In James 4:17 (NKJV) we read:

Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

When you have a clear word from God but continually put it off, you are living in defiance to His timing and direction. This is dangerous territory spiritually.

As 2 Corinthians 6:2 (NKJV) warns:

For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation.

Procrastination wastes the opportunities God grants us to act on His behalf and fulfill His purposes. We are not promised tomorrow, so prompt obedience is the wisest choice.

Fear and Lack of Faith Often Drive Procrastination

Why do we procrastinate even when we know God’s prompting within us? At the heart of most needless delay is fear and lack of faith in God’s provision and sovereignty.

We worry about the possible consequences and negatives that could come from taking action. Or we doubt that things will work out even if we promptly follow God’s lead. So we hesitate and put off stepping out.

In Matthew 14:22-33 (NKJV) Peter wanted to obey Jesus’ call to come out onto the water, but he took his eyes off Jesus and began sinking due to fear:

And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Like Peter, we may desire to follow the Lord’s direction, but take our focus off His power and provision. This leads to fear and doubt that opens the door for procrastination.

We try to avoid the discomfort, uncertainty, or hard work that moving ahead requires. But this denies the truth of God’s presence and the sufficiency of His grace which Scripture promises:

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13 NKJV)

Walking by faith, not giving place to fear, is the key to overcoming procrastination. We can boldly obey God in the strength He provides.

Biblical Examples of Consequences from Procrastination

Tragically, there are several biblical examples where procrastinating obedience led to serious consequences and missed opportunities.

1. Moses’ delayed obedience kept him out of the Promised Land

In Numbers 20, God told Moses to speak to the rock to bring forth water, but in anger he struck it instead. God still brought the water, but rebuked Moses for not trusting Him fully by obeying promptly. He told Moses:

“Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” (Numbers 20:12 NKJV)

This seems like a harsh consequence for a small act of disobedience. But it illustrates the seriousness with which God takes our procrastination and delay in obeying His direct commands.

2. King Saul lost the kingdom through delayed obedience

In 1 Samuel 13, Saul grew impatient waiting for Samuel to arrive to make an offering before a battle. So Saul offered it himself instead of waiting for Samuel as he had been instructed. When Samuel arrived, he rebuked Saul’s disobedience and told him:

You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you. For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” (1 Samuel 13:13-14 NKJV)

Procrastination cost Saul the kingdom. Let this serve as a lesson to us about the high value God places on prompt obedience to His commands.

3. The foolish virgins missed joining the wedding feast

In Jesus’ parable of the wise and foolish virgins in Matthew 25:1-13, the foolish virgins procrastinated preparing their lamps and buying oil. When the bridegroom came, they had to scramble to find oil and missed joining the wedding feast while the wise virgins who were prepared went in.

Don’t allow procrastination to delay your readiness and stewardship for the Master. As verse 13 warns:

“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” (Matthew 25:13 NKJV)

We Must Redeem the Time and Not Delay

A key theme throughout the New Testament is the call to redeem our time and make the most of every opportunity we have to serve God and do good. Procrastination is the opposite of this biblical wisdom.

Ephesians 5:15-17 (NKJV) challenges us:

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Are you walking wisely and purposefully for God? Or frittering away opportunities through procrastination and hesitancy?

2 Corinthians 6:2 (NKJV) warns:

For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation.

Don’t keep delaying embracing God’s purpose for your life. The time is NOW.

Hebrews 3:13 (NKJV) cautions:

But exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

Procrastination is rooted in the deceitfulness of sin. We falsely assume we can put off God’s work until tomorrow. While tomorrow is not guaranteed, today is the day of opportunity we are called to steward wisely.

James 4:13-15 (NKJV) reminds us:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

Rather than assume we have endless time to do God’s will, we must adopt the humble mindset of desiring to promptly obey while submitting to God’s overall plan. Procrastination focuses on temporal, worldly goals. But as Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 (NKJV):

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

When we prioritize pursuing God’s kingdom purpose, He will help us accomplish what He wants in His proper timing.

Overcoming Procrastination Requires Intentionality and God’s Strength

We all struggle with procrastination on some level. Thankfully scripture gives practical wisdom and encouragement to overcome this tendency. Here are some key ways to conquer procrastination through God’s power:

1. Seek accountability and input from wise counsel. Share your goals and struggles with mature believers who will encourage you to take needed action. As Proverbs 15:22 (NKJV) states:

Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counselors they are established.

2. Take steps of faith before you “feel” ready. Do the hard work and preparation even when uncertain. As 2 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV) says:

For we walk by faith, not by sight.

Move ahead in trust versus fear.

3. Focus on what matters most right now. Prioritize your time for maximum spiritual impact. As Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NKJV) reminds:

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.

Discern God’s purpose for this season and align your schedule accordingly.

4. Break bigger tasks into smaller action steps. Procrastination thrives on vague, overwhelming projects. Divide intimidating goals into specific, daily progress. As Proverbs 16:3 (NKJV) advises:

Commit your works to the Lord, And your thoughts will be established.

5. Refuse to overcommit yourself. Limit distractions and guard your time diligently. As Psalm 90:12 (NKJV) prays:

Teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.

6. Repent when you procrastinate and rely on the Spirit to help you change. Don’t wallow in condemnation. Receive God’s forgiveness and ask Him for strength to redeem the time going forward. As Galatians 5:16 (NKJV) encourages:

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

Procrastination will not disappear overnight. But as we submit our hearts to God, seek wise counsel, take steps of faith, focus on priorities, break tasks into doable actions, limit distractions, and rely on the Spirit – He will give us discernment, discipline and empowerment to conquer procrastination.

God Rewards Those Who Seek and Serve Him Promptly

Though change will not happen perfectly, scripture promises that prioritizing and serving God diligently brings great reward. As Jesus shared in Matthew 6:33 (NKJV):

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

When we pursue God’s priorities first, He adds all we need to walk in obedience and blessing.

James 1:22 (NKJV) challenges us:

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

Don’t just learn about overcoming procrastination. Take action to apply God’s truth and walk it out by faith.

Galatians 6:9 (NKJV) motivates us to persevere:

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Changing engrained habits requires steadfastness and God’s strength. But great reward awaits those who press on to redeem the time and walk in obedience.

2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NKJV) promises for all who finish their race well:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

As you rely on the Holy Spirit to help you conquer procrastination, God will affirm your efforts and work mightily through you for His glory. Don’t delay embracing all He has planned! The time is now.


Procrastination can severely limit our effectiveness and fruitfulness as Christians. Thankfully scripture gives us much wisdom to recognize the causes of needless delay and overcome this destructive habit. As we submit to the Holy Spirit, take steps of faith, seek wise counsel, focus on priorities, limit distractions, and rely on God’s strength, He will empower us to redeem the time and walk in joyful obedience. God rewards those who pursue His purposes with faith and diligence. May we all press on to embrace the fullness of God’s calling, refusing to procrastinate what He wants to do through our lives for His glory. The time is now!

Pastor Duke Taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.