I recently got an app on my mobile phone that lets me deposit checks electronically.
There are a lot of things technology has done for me and I love them all, but this has to be one of the highlights. No more filling out the deposit slip! No more taking the check and the slip to the car and then to the bank! No waiting to pull up to the window just to talk to a disembodied voice! Shoot, click, send, done.
I mean, yeah, my bank is only five minutes from my house. And it takes me less than two seconds to sign a check and fill out the deposit form, but still. I live for convenience and ease. Most of us do. And if I can shave a few minutes and a car trip from my day with the push of a button on my phone, you better believe I’m going to do it.
Convenience and multi-tasking and ease aren’t bad things. We shouldn’t scoff at them. It doesn’t hone your character or make you morally superior to sit in line to cash a check rather than to do it electronically. But in our pursuit of convenience and in our attempts to make life easier for ourselves, we must never sweep others aside. Ever. As Proverbs 3:27-28 reminds us:
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
when it is in your power to act.
Do not say to your neighbor,
“Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—
when you already have it with you.
When I read this verse I always think, for some reason, of a man just trying to mow his lawn. And the man’s neighbor wants to know if he can borrow a shovel. The shovel’s in the shed; the shed is locked; the shed is behind the house. To get the shovel, the man has to stop his mowing, turn off the lawnmower, grab the keys, trudge to the back of the house, unlock the shed, grab the shovel, lock the shed back, and then get back to his mowing.
Inconvenience. Isn’t it easier and simpler to say, “Yeah, I’ll grab it for you tomorrow!” when you have to be in the shed anyway for other yard work?
But that isn’t how love works. If part of being Christian is to deliberately de-prioritize ourselves and our own wants, then surely this is also a part of it. We can enjoy convenience and embrace it, but we must not sacrifice the needs of others for it. We are called to set aside everything in the moment when we are aware of a need, or when someone asks for help.
In light of that, may I suggest five ways to embrace immediacy?
1. Call that person. You know, that person. The person you’ve been putting off calling for whatever reason: you know it will take forever, it feels awkward, you haven’t spoken in years. Call. Now.
2. Do that favor. The thing you promised someone you’d do for them sometime? The thing that you didn’t put a date on because you didn’t want to hem yourself in? Go do it. Now.
3. Pray that prayer. You said “I’ll pray for you” and then you said you’d do it later. Go pray right where you are.
4. Seek that opportunity. When a chance comes up to do something and you know God wants you to be a part of it, volunteer. Don’t wait to mull it over or check your calendar or hear more about it. If God pushes you, move.
5. Give that gift. Maybe you’ve been meaning to make a donation. Write the check and send it. Maybe you’ve been meaning to send a card to a lonely person. Go write it. Maybe you have to buy a fruit basket or grab some flowers to buy or a run to make by the hospital. Whatever gesture it is you’ve been contemplating, do it now.
It’s not wrong to pursue convenience. But in our pursuit of ease for ourselves, we must be careful never to set others aside.