Knowing the Right Thing to Do and Not Doing it!

Knowing the Right thing to do and not doing it sins

Knowing the Right Thing to Do and Not Doing it!

James 4:17

“To one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.”

The New Testament contains a number of passages that define sin.  It is “lawlessness” (1 John 3:4), it is “unrighteousness” (1 John 5:17), and it includes whatever is not of faith (Romans 14:23). The present verse adds to our knowledge of the meaning of sin.

Here we notice what has been called a “sin of omission.” In other words, we find that sin is not only doing the wrong thing, but sin is also failure to do the right thing. For example, if you burned down a person’s house, this would be a sin of commission (something that you did). But, on the other hand, if you saw a house burning and failed to warn the residents of the house, this would be a sin of omission.

Our guess is that we commit just as many sins of omission as we do sins of commission.  Sins of commission might include slander against another person, or gossip about him, or hurting him in some way, or taking what belongs to him. This is doing something against a person that we shouldn’t do.

On the other hand, sins of omission might include a failure to help a friend, a refusal to give money to a deserving friend, neglecting to warn a person of a coming calamity, failing to love or care for another person, or not blessing a person in some legitimate way.

The text says, “to the one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). Do you know of anything that you should be doing to help another person—a friend, family member, neighbor, or anyone else? Do you know of a word you should say to a person to warn, bless, or edify that person? Do you know of something you should do for a person but have either neglected to do it or refused to do it? In all of these ways, when we don’t do something that we should, this is sinful.

Do you and I sin in this way? Let’s always “seek after that which is good for one another and for all people” (1 Thessalonians 5:15).

–Richard Hollerman

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