I’ve been going back over certain passages of Scripture lately in an attempt to recontextualize Jesus as part of the Trinity; I think we have a habit of sometimes emphasizing His humanity at the cost of His godliness, and I wanted to think about Him specifically as the Word that was with God in the very beginning. In my studying, though, I started noticing a theme:
Jesus doesn’t wait.
At least not when it comes to acting on love or faith. He wants to feed the hungry right that second. He engages in an immediate long-distance healing at a royal official’s request (John 4:43-54). He saves Peter from drowning immediately (Matt. 14:31). Jesus doesn’t dwell on, ponder about, or consider whether or not or how He should love: He just does. As soon as He possibly can. (You can point out that He waits to resurrect Lazarus, but I’m exempting that in this case because I think, in that case, the wait was deliberate and meant to be deeply symbolic).
On the other hand, God frequently delays judgment and wrath. He is willing to put off the immediate destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah to negotiate with Abraham over the righteous remaining there (Genesis 18:16-33). He relented from the harsh judgment He intended to bring against Ninevah (Jonah 3:10). And then, in 2 Peter 3:8, we are reminded:
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
From this I draw a simple principle: love immediately, and delay everything that doesn’t come from love.
It’s hard to do. We want to give people a piece of our minds right now. We want to get mad and worried right now. We want to speak in haste right now. We want to share that juicy tidbit of info the minute we hear it. It’s not in our nature to wait until we’ve cooled off; we want to confront, to challenge, to indulge whatever urge it is we think will satisfy us.
Simultaneously, we tend to begrudge and delay the actions that come from love. We want to forgive, but not until someone grovels. We want to love, but not until we’re in the right frame of mind. We want to walk in faith, but only after we’ve secured everything that needs securing. We immediately vent and satisfy every urge and desire that comes from the flesh, but we kick the can of God’s business down the road a little bit more.
What does it look like if we change that? What does it look like in your life if, when you think of doing an act of service, you immediately go out and do that instead of chewing on it? When you forgive the moment you’re able, rather than waiting for someone to meet the invisible “truly penitent” expectations you have in your mind? When you pray right that second?
And what does it look like when you delay everything else? What happens if you look at your worries and fears and say, “I’m going to put off indulging you for a while and just go on living”? What if you, after a slight or a hurt, simply sit on it instead of airing it out with eight other people and designing the perfect angry speech? What if you hear that absolutely unbelievable thing and just pray about it before you immediately pick up the phone and spread the rumors?
If we’re going to emulate Jesus and the Father and the Spirit, we start with being mindful of managing our time and our mental energy. What comes from love and faith we should always feel free to indulge immediately and in entirety. Never restrain yourself; never pause; never take time to consider.
And the rest of it? Delay it. Sometimes it’s not easy to immediately let go of anger or fear or malice entirely, but it’s simpler to say, “I’m going to put this off” or “I’m going to give it a day or so.” And when you do, you’ve earned yourself time to deal with it. You’ve crafted the beginnings of mercy by not giving in to your own desires. And you’ve perhaps restrained yourself from sin in simply giving yourself time to step back and to calm down.
Give in to love always and immediately.
Everything else can wait.