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The Sin of Doing Nothing!

Updated: Nov 28, 2020

“Anyone then who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” James 4:17

I’ve been reading the Book of James for my morning devotions. In that book, James comes right out of the chute hard on obedience. James cannot imagine a lukewarm, or disobedient Christian. To him that term is an oxymoron. He’s the famous “faith without works is dead” brother of Jesus, and the apostle, who made the statement we all think many other Christians are guilty of, but we ourselves are not!

The truth is most of us are fairly good at sin management. That is, we manage to avoid the “felony sins” – public sins like adultery, alcoholism, theft and taking God’s name in vain. But rarely do we think about the sins of omission as I was taught as a kid – the things we ought to do, that we fail to do. “Like what?” you might be asking.

  1. Do you have family members with whom you have a strained relationship, but you’ve been waiting for them to make the first move? (Because it’s their fault.)

  2. Is there someone you suspect is really struggling with a financial need, that you have the means to address?

  3. Is there a word of encouragement you’ve meant to give someone, that you’ve been too busy to call or write?

  4. Is there a person you know you ought to forgive, but you’ve been waiting for them to apologize to you?

  5. Is there a lonely, older single person who you’ve been meaning to take to lunch, visit in a retirement home, or have over to the house?

  6. Is there an LGBT person or the family of one, who you’ve been avoiding because you fear it could be awkward?

“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” 1 Peter 2:12

My guess is that for many of you reading this list, the Holy Spirit triggered something in you – he gave you a name, or a face, or a memory. He did that for a reason. If he did – – please do the good you know you out to do, right now – today!

You have a mission from God! As a member of God’s family, your mission in life is to be Jesus’ stand-in. That means he expects you to behave like him–as if he lived in your house, raised your children, saw the same strangers and needy people you see, and hung out with your friends. More than that–it’s intentionally living with your spiritual radar full on, eagerly anticipating his next assignment.

When Jesus instructed his disciples to pray “May your kingdom come. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” it wasn’t just wishful thinking on Jesus’ part about his future kingdom. He actually expects his followers, his brothers and sisters, to bring the kingdom to earth–that is, to act on his behalf in your world.

Environmentalists have a saying, “Think globally–act locally.” The kingdom of God and the eternal purposes of God are so big it’s tough to get our minds around them. But we can do this: We can live out a simple faith, in front of the people we live with and meet every day, consistently enough to change the world around us.

When our children were small, they had chores. They weren’t always happy about their assignments, but they did them. As kids, they couldn’t possibly understand how their thousands of simple acts of obedience contributed to the orderly management of our large household. Neither could they have imagined at the time that in doing them they were actually learning the skills of cooperation and self-sacrifice so important for their own future households, vocations, and relationships.

There’s a reason the Holy Spirit prompts us to do these “divine chores” in the family of God. As spiritual children, simple obedience to his requests get things done in the household of faith, or the kingdom of God, that we can’t possibly understand now or maybe ever.

This is Holy Week. Why not observe it by being an agent of grace to someone who desperately needs assurance that God loves them too?

How following Jesus works in real life.

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