Pay Now or Pay Later.
That is a simple principle but it is very true. I first remember seeing this when I was in high school. I had a friend who did very well well in school. He made very good grades and seemed to do so without a lot of stress. Meanwhile, if a test was scheduled for the following week, I might stay up late studying, get stressed out over the test for a day or so, and not do nearly as well as he did. I asked him one day, "What do you do? How do you make this work?" He shrugged his shoulders and said, "Oh, I don’t know. Maybe it goes back to what I do everyday. I read the chapter for discussion before coming to class every day (I never did). Then I really listen during class (I didn’t really do that). Then, I try to take very good notes (mine were so-so). He was "paying now." I was "paying later."
School is not the only area of life where this is true:
- My health. I can neglect my body now but I may very well pay later. I can choose to not exercise and pay no attention to my diet, weight, overall health, etc. However, that can come back to haunt me later in life.
- My children. When they are little, I can allow them to be disrespectful to me, their mother, and other people. Perhaps my little girl or boy talks back to me and there are no consequences. I can refuse to deal with this when they are small but this will only get worse. (If you allow him to talk back to you when he is four, just wait and see what he says to you at fourteen.) Pay now — deal with this now while the child is young, or pay later.
- My marriage. People often get married and then get wrapped up in their careers. Or, they might become a child-focused family with the couple neglecting their own relationship. If we neglect one another in our early years, this will likely come back to haunt us in later years when the children are gone.
- My finances. Many people see what they want and then choose to buy it — immediately. If they really don’t have the money, then they put it on a credit card. Then at the end of the month, the bill comes. The cost of various purchases over the month is now combined. They couldn’t pay for it a few weeks ago and still can’t pay for it. Yet now, they must deal with an incredible amount of interest.
Suggestion. This week, deal with what is before you. Pray that God will help you see what is in your life that you are avoiding or neglecting and really need to deal with.
- Is it financial? Do you need to stop maxing out the credit cards? ("Oh, it will all work out. Besides, I’ve just got to buy that_____.")
- Is it health? A walk around the block this evening might be a good beginning.
- Is it marriage? Instead of saying "One day we’re gonna take this big trip," start TODAY. Show your spouse some kindness in a practical way.
- Is it children? Is your 4- or 5-year-old testing you? Don’t just yell or raise your voice or threaten. Give an appropriate consequence. (By the way, none of the others — yelling, talking loud, or threatening — are consequences.)
Pray about this and then start today. This principle has been very helpful to me. Perhaps it is or will be helpful to you as well.
Why do you believe we often put off dealing with that which should be addressed today? Is there any one of the four areas listed above that you wish you had approached differently?