Don’t Be “USELESS”

Don’t Be “USELESS”

“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
(James 4:17, ESV – emphasis mine, DR)

The old statement that one can sin actively (by “commission”) OR passively (by
“omission”) is accurate, but it is a mistake to think that sins of omission are somehow “not as
serious” as sins of commission. An “active” sin might be committed “in the heat of passion” (and
thus be a “once in a lifetime” offense), but “passive” sins hold the grave danger of being repeated. We might never consider blaspheming God (a sin of “commission”), but how easily could
we fall into the sin of neglecting to love the Lord our God without ever feeling guilty of any sin?

“Sin” is not merely violating prohibitions: It also lies in failing to accomplish the positive requirements God has given. Neglecting things for which God has given us both ability and
the responsibility makes us effectively useless for Him! Brother Franklin Camp once observed,
“If I have an opportunity and ability to help someone, but fail, I am just as surely guilty, as if I had
opportunity and ability to steal and did so.”

Jesus had strong words about the sin of being “useless!” Matthew 21:18-22 tells of a fig
tree He cursed: It had leaves (an indication it should have had fruit), yet it was fruitless. It wasn’t dead, toxic, or even just “immature” – it was “just” fruitless, a fig tree without figs. Bearing
figs was its whole reason for existing, but it wasn’t doing its job. This was why Jesus “cursed” it.
In Matthew 25, the five- and two-talent men doubled what had been entrusted to them,
and both received the same commendation (showing that it was not the “amount” of activity that
mattered). The man with one talent simply returned what he had received. None of it was lost
or “wasted,” so what was this man’s sin? USELESSNESS.

The rich man of Luke 16 also had an opportunity to do good to someone else, but did not.
When we read about the judgement in Matthew 25, who do we see Jesus condemn? Those
who had opportunities to do good, but did nothing. His judgement says that such folks – if they
don’t change – are fit for the company of the Devil! When we live in a world where there is
need, and neither see nor look for opportunities, this is the result!

We cannot rid ourselves of responsibility by closing our eyes to opportunities: Christians
are meant to be “…ready unto every good work” (Titus 3:1). Encourage every good work. If
nothing else, you can say a good word for it. Christians who “fail” at the judgment will not do so
because they violated the “thou shalt not” commandments, but because of the “positive” commands they neglected. Sins of omission tend to precede sins of commission: Neglecting bible
study, neglecting one’s prayer life, and neglected faithfulness all tend to precede the active violation of things God forbids. Don’t squander the opportunity to be “use-FULL” as you live
for Christ!


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