“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you” (Prov. 3:27-28).
There are many times where there’d be a certain thing I’d need to do or a certain opportunity I’d need to jump on that I’d say to myself “eh, I’ll do that tomorrow.” Sometimes it may be helping out a person in need. Often it’s little things like a chore, or an obligation, or even just sending back a text or an email. I may then reason with myself, “God is sovereign so it’ll all work out in the end even if something goes wrong.” Then lo and behold, something comes up that causes the opportunity to pass. While, yes, God remains sovereign and everything that happens is ultimately for my good, nonetheless there is a real good thing that I could have done that has passed away, solely because I used God’s sovereignty as an excuse for laziness.
In thinking on this, these types of situations happen because of two errors in my thinking. The first is a prideful presumption of the future. James describes this in his epistle saying,
“Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (Js. 4:13-17).
This prideful assumption that you know what tomorrow will hold, such that you can put off doing the good now, to tomorrow is evil. Any time you assume that you know what goes on in the secret will of God, is evil.
“We do not wish to inquire with undue curiosity into what he does that surpasses human understanding and is beyond our ability to comprehend. But in all humility and reverence we adore the just judgments of God, which are hidden from us, being content to be Christ’s disciples, so as to learn only what he shows us in his Word, without going beyond those limits” (Belgic Confession, Article 13).
The second type of thinking that leads to this behavior, is what I like to call, “Practical Hyper-Calvinism.” Regular Hyper-Calvinism is the belief that due to the fact that God is sovereign over election, the church does not have a duty to evangelize. Now this is clearly wrong, since evangelism is the God ordained means that Lord uses to save His elect. If we were to strip Hyper-Calvinism down to its basic logic, it’s something like this: “if God is sovereign over X, then man doesn’t need to participate in the means to X, in order for X to be accomplished.” A practical Hyper-Calvinist then, is someone who throughout their day-to-day life will reason with themselves saying,”God is sovereign so I don’t have to do this”. Or when combined with the first error,”God is sovereign so I don’t have to do this NOW”.
I once heard a sermon on Hyper-Calvinism in which the preacher made the claim that both Hyper-Calvinist and Arminians make the same fundamental error in their thinking. The Arminian denies the sovereignty, while the Hyper-Calvinist rejects the means. The true Calvinist however, affirms both. One thing I’ve realized, even in my own life, is that though doctrinally I’ll reject Hyper-Calvinism, I’ll often live my life like a practical Hyper-Calvinist which usually results in a lack of good deeds and bold actions for the sake of the kingdom. While I often use the sovereignty of God for an excuse to laziness, the Bible often uses the sovereignty of God as the motivation TO action.
- All power has been given to Christ… therefore evangelize (Matt. 28:18-19).
- God works in your salvation… therefore Work out your salvation (Phil. 2:12-13).
- The LORD has delivered this battle into your hands… therefore go and defeat these people (I Sam. 17:47).
- The old man has been crucified with Christ… therefore put the old man to death (Gal. 2:20).
Therefore, if you have an opportunity to do good, do not presume that you will have that opportunity tomorrow, Do not use the reality of God’s sovereignty to put it on delay, do the good now while it’s in your power to do so.