Many leaders and philosophers have suggested that action is generally preferable to inaction. That’s not a rule to become dogmatic about, but all else being equal, choosing to do something seems to be the right choice more often than not doing something1. I’ve found this to be true in my own life: while not always the case, I’ve often enjoyed doing something I wasn’t sure about – more than I’ve enjoyed passing up a good opportunity. (Don’t take this to an extreme, of course: there is such a thing as being too busy, just as there are missed chances.)
One popular passage (even the basis of a kids’ song) tells of two pairs of brothers who made a choice to take action. They dropped what they were doing when Jesus called them, and followed Him.
Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.
Matthew 4:18-22 NASB
This is a positive example for us: it was pretty clear that they made the right choice – later impacting countless millions for good, despite the personal cost.
In fact, this is pretty much exactly what we should do. After all, Jesus is calling us, and we should indeed drop everything – immediately – to follow Him.
(Unlike these particular disciples, He doesn’t necessarily call everyone to leave their jobs, though, so don’t let that be a deal-breaker. Often, once we give everything over to Him, He calls us to pick some of it back up: re-applying the skills and opportunities that He provided us in the first place, but now for a greater purpose.)
There are some other people who had the opportunity to follow Jesus, though. Their names aren’t recorded in the passage below, and perhaps that is a good thing, since – unlike the disciples mentioned above – they do not provide good examples for us to follow.
As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Luke 9:57-62 NASB
This passage doesn’t tell us whether or not the three people with excuses listened to Jesus’ instruction, and eventually chose to follow Him. I’d like to think so, but I’ve also seen the range of excuses that people make when they really don’t want to follow Jesus. Maybe they just like life to be comfy and cushy, and aren’t comfortable trusting Jesus to take care of them. Maybe they are too attached to things of this world – even the “good” things, like family or nature – to accept that Jesus puts all of these things in perspective. Or, maybe they are just procrastinators, and believe that they need to do other things first – intending to follow Jesus “later” (missing the fact that following Him now makes our lives immediately more meaningful, rewarding, and purposeful).
Imagine the difference between those who chose to follow Jesus on the spot, and those who were personally invited by Him but made excuses. Sure, there are important things for us to do in life, but Jesus doesn’t call us to do good things and then follow Him once everything is settled and we’ve “retired”. He calls us to follow Him, and the ability to achieve great things follows from His guidance (through the Holy Spirit) after that.
If you agree with that statement, but are waiting for His calling – you can stop waiting. His invitation is open to you, right now:
Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.
Revelation 3:20 NASB
It is good news that we don’t only get one chance to accept Jesus’ offer. Just because you passed on an opportunity to follow Him in the past, that doesn’t prevent you from taking Him up on His offer right now. Although our time on earth is short compared to eternity (see James 4:14), if you are reading this today, you still have the chance to accept Jesus’ invitation to follow Him.
“But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went. The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, ‘I will, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you.
Matthew 21:28-31 NASB
Take the step towards Jesus, today.
- Don’t Just Do Something…Sit There!
- You Must Choose
- “I Do Not Know the Way”
- A Little Closer Every Day
- See https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/inaction.html for a sampling of quotes. I thought that had I read another great quote somewhere in a book from my basement, but couldn’t find the exact passage again in my searching. ↩