Pay Now, Play Later

“But someone will say, ‘you have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” James 2:19

When I was in junior high I read several of John Maxwell’s leadership books. Out of all those books I remember one phrase that has stuck with me for years, “Pay Now, Play Later”.

As a young kid, I learned that if you want to reach your goals you have to give up things. Being vigilant with school work means you miss parties, you miss sporting events, you can’t sign up for everything and you have to balance the things that get you to your goal. Sometimes that means ending friendships or changing direction with your job or outside activities.

I have younger people ask me “how did you get where you are?” “How did you and your husband afford two CRNA educations?”

Work and sacrifice.

Plain and simple.

The phrase “pay now and play later” is also very biblical. Our ultimate goal is heaven! Praising and worshipping our Heavenly Father on the streets of gold.

There’s a big difference between life goals and the goal of heaven that I want to make sure of and emphasize.

You don’t have to work to get to heaven.

With that being said, Faith without work is dead. There’s no way for me to explain it better than James did.

James 2:14-26 gives us a great explanation of faith and work. It also shows us how hard work (pay now) lends to wonderful blessings which are where the “play later” comes in.

The key verse tells us plainly that faith that doesn’t have works is not true faith. The way I picture Faith without works is like believing in Santa Claus but acting terrible.

You believe with all your heart that he is real and you want him to stop at your chimney and bring you gifts on Christmas Day, but you do absolutely nothing to earn or deserve those gifts.

I always hear parents say their kids are the most well-behaved during the Christmas season. They threaten them with Santa Claus not visiting their house. Those kids believe and they act right because of that belief.

If you want the heavenly crowns and a life full of blessings you must work.

If you want to be a Doctor, a nurse, a lawyer, a mother, a teacher, or any other worldly goal you must work.

Put the hard work in now so you can play later.


Thank you for the desire to work. I thank you for leaders and writers that shaped my yearning to reach goals. I pray I never lose that. I pray for my readers who feel stuck. Who have goals but don’t know how to get there. I pray wisdom over them. I pray perseverance in the struggle. Hard work has made me a better person and a grateful Christian. I pray that the word James wrote will speak to frustrated souls trying to “make it”. Lord you are good and I praise you for the ultimate goal of heaven.


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