In Nicaragua I am surrrounded by sin. Well, not necessary THAT kind of sin, but the Spanish word sin. In Spanish sin mean “without,” and you see it on billboards everywhere. Cellphone companies advertising plans sin roaming, soda companies advertising drinks sin sugar, and donut companies advertising chocolate cream filled donuts sin calories (ok, I made that last one up, but a man can dream!). It’s a little weird to see the word sin everywhere, but it has gotten me thinking. We often think of sin as the bad things we do, i.e. lying, cheating, lust, etc. These are called sins of commission, and are certainly sins we should avoid. What we often forget about are sins of omission, failing to do the things that God has commanded us to do. What are we living without in our lives? What are we not doing that God has called us to do?
James does a great job of teaching is this point:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:13-17
Let’s start at the end. James tells us that if we know the right thing, but choose not to do it, it’s the same as telling a lie or throwing a punch. For example, we may know our neighbor needs to hear about Jesus, but out of fear we choose not to share the good news. Or, we may know it is right to share our time and financial blessings with God and others, but we choose to keep those precious resources for ourselves. God desires us not only to not do bad, but to always be doing good.
On that note, look at what James says about waiting to do good. I’ve been guilty of doing that so often. “God, I’ll share my finances with you after I pay off my car.” “God, I’ll share the gospel with that person, but first let me take care of these 78 things.” We know we should do it, but we continually put it off. Yet, James tells us that the moment we are to be doing good is the moment we are living in. It’s not just tomorrow or someday, but now that we are to do good for God.
This week, remember that sin is not only the negative things you do, but also the good you choose not to do. Don’t put off goodness this week, but look for opportunities to do as much good as possible.