Having thought about procrastination, motivation, diligence, and consequences, Solomon and other wise men wrote the following lines of encouragement:
The hope of the righteous is gladness,
But the expectation of the wicked perishes. (10:28)
Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
But desire realized is a tree of life. (13:12)
Desire realized is sweet to the soul,
But it is an abomination to fools to turn away from evil. (13:19)
These Hebrew sages acknowledged the difficulty of delaying gratification. They were people just like us, whose hearts get “sick” when forced to put desires on hold. They, too, wanted the immediate payoff of procrastination rather than having to sacrifice to gain the rewards of diligence. They, like us, wearied of working day in and day out to create a good future for themselves. They, like all people, struggled to maintain a balance between enjoying today and planning for tomorrow. Because they recognized the universal desire to take it easy, the wise men of Israel nurtured a robust sense of hope. When you hope, you bring a small piece of future enjoyment into today. When you hope, you imagine the satisfaction you will feel when your diligence begins to pay off.
When I have a big task to accomplish, I plan a vacation that will begin soon after I meet the deadline. That gives me a near-term reward for my diligence. For example, I might plan a week on Kauai to follow several months of intense planning, studying, writing, and editing a major book. (By the way, I don’t allow anything I do for the radio ministry or for books to take away from my normal duties as senior pastor at Stonebriar Community Church.) As I diligently complete the manuscript, desperately wanting to quit at times, I imagine myself relaxing on a lanai, feet up, sipping a cool beverage, reading a great book, and enjoying the gentle ocean breeze and the sound of surf.
This works so well, in fact, that I’m inspired to begin another chapter today!
From Living the Proverbs by Charles R. Swindoll, copyright © 2012. Reprinted by permission of Worthy Inspired., an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.
In Embraced by the Spirit, we step away from the heat of theological battle that analyzes and criticizes and move quietly and closely to the One who has been sent alongside to help.