There are times in Scripture where we receive unique insight into the tragedy of procrastination. There’s the parable of the ten virgins (Mt. 25:1-13), five of whom prepared for the bridegroom’s arrival, and five that did not, but instead procrastinated and were shut out of the wedding. In Luke 9:57-62 we see instances of people who, instead of heeding Jesus’ call to follow Him, offered “but first” excuses. We don’t know what they decided to do after Jesus addressed their attempts to procrastinate but if they did put off following Him we understand what a foolish and dangerous decision that was. That’s the kind of procrastination that is the most tragic of all. Although procrastination in any form of life can be problematic, i.e. letting the sun go down on your wrath because you didn’t address it sooner (Eph. 4:26-27), this kind of procrastination is the pinnacle of folly.
The governor Felix was such a man. He had heard Paul’s defense after the Jews accused Paul of sedition and heresy. Felix postponed making a decision about the apostle, and then, after some days, he and his wife Drusilla sent for him and heard him concerning faith in Christ (Acts 24:24).
What happens next is startling.
Paul reasoned with Felix about “righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come” (vs.25). While we’re not told the exact details of the conversation we could imagine that when Paul spoke of righteousness that he spoke about the merit of Christ and our need to have a righteousness that was not of the law but one that only comes through faith in the person and work of Christ. Such is a theme addressed by Paul quite a few times in his epistles. When he spoke of self-control, he most likely described to Felix what the Christian life looks like. In the midst of a pagan world given to sensual pleasure and satisfaction, the Christian was to find contentment in the One who said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you” (Heb 13:5). And, as any good Gospel presentation will do, Paul spoke about the judgment to come. This Gospel wasn’t simply an option that Felix had presented to him whereby he could make this life better. The backdrop of the Gospel is the inevitability of death and judgment in light of a lifetime of rebellion against God. The Gospel is not simply an option, it’s the only way for a sinner to be made righteous, escape the torments of the lake of fire, and enjoy glorifying God forever.
What’s startling is – Felix’s response. The rest of verse says, “Felix was afraid and answered, ‘Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.'” (vs.25b)
As far as we know… that ‘convenient time’ never came…
When Felix heard Paul speak concerning faith in Christ and righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, he was afraid. It would be fair to assume he intellectually understood the Gospel and that he was afraid because he knew, at some level, that he was a sinner that was not right before God. Yet, like many of us have tried to do when we’ve been afraid, he suppressed it, and pushed it to the side. It’s one thing to push aside fears that the Lord tells us not to have, like worrying about tomorrow, or about food and clothing. It’s another thing to push away the fear that we’re supposed to have. The kind that the Scripture calls the beginning of wisdom: “the fear of the LORD”.
Whatever the case was with Felix, and whatever the internal workings of his mind were, he joined the foolishness of the Athenians who told Paul, “We will hear you again on this matter” (Acts 17:32).
That moment that the Athenians presumed would be there appears to have never happened.
The convenient time Felix appeased his mind by thinking about looks to have never occurred either.
If today, you hear the voice of the Lord saying, as it were, ‘Follow Me’ and ‘Believe the Gospel’, do not join the ranks of Felix and the Athenians, or those in Luke 9:57-62 who said, “I will…. But first….” As it is written, “Behold now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2). Repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and avoid the foolish tragedy of procrastination.