Failing to act
I think I missed an opportunity. Someone invited me to something and I stalled in my reply for almost two months. By the time I got back with them it was too late. The window of opportunity had closed. Since then, I have been convicted about my lack of urgency.
I should have acted
I feel I should have acted when I had the chance. I have since wondered about the eternal consequences of my indecision. My Reformed tendencies usually muffle such thoughts, but this time I have had the nagging thought about the consequences of my not doing anything.
A sense of urgency
Do you lack a sense of urgency? What keeps you from acting? Have you ever considered that not doing something you know you should do, is just as much a sin as doing something you know you should not do?
What should be done
We would not tolerate someone on our team stealing or killing someone. I know it is an absurd idea. It is easy to identify a no-no. It is much harder to speak about what should be done that no one is doing.
Our own troubles
I mentioned Numbers 32:23 to a friend recently as I was trying to explain how we are to blame for our own troubles sometimes. This where Moses says, “Your sin will find you out.” I was making the case to my friend that sin has embedded its own judgement.
Sin of doing nothing
What I did not remember, until I looked up the passage later, is the context that Moses makes that statement is about the sin of doing nothing. Two tribes did not want to enter the Promised Land, but stay east of the Jordan. Moses said, that is fine, as long as you will go with the other tribes to take possession of the Promised Land. Moses then said, “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the Lord and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.” Their sin would be neglecting what should be done.
An influence upon all
Spurgeon had a sermon titled The Great Sin of Doing Nothing based on this passage. You should read it. In it he said, “Whether we do or do not do, what we do or do not do, will have an influence upon all that are round us—perhaps to all eternity.” I think Yoda said that too. Failing to act is a sin of omission. As I said, it is much harder to speak about what should be done.
What are they hurting?
Sometimes we look at churches, or individual Christians, who are not giving, not reaching out, or not serving and ask, “What are they hurting?” They are complacent and happy to huddle once a week with other complacent and happy people. They sing some songs and take notes on some topic that they will do absolutely nothing about. We think to ourselves, “So what? Let them be. They are not hurting anything.”
Sin finds us out
Really? When Moses spoke to those tribes he said neglecting to act was sinning against the Lord. What would happen? I don’t know. He was vague, yet emphatic: “You may be sure that your sin will find you out.” Perhaps as I said to my friend, sin has its own judgements embedded in it. When we neglect to give, that sin finds us out, and less money is given. When we neglect to reach out and evangelize, that sin finds us out, and growth ceases. When we neglect to serve and exercise our gifting, that sin finds us out, and ministry stops.
Regain a sense of urgency
If you have been tolerating neglect, be sure it will find you out. Craig Groeschel has said, “You cannot change what you are willing to tolerate.” Neglect and complacency does great damage. You are fooling yourself if you think inaction has no impact. Regain a sense of urgency to act. Not doing something that should be done, a sin of omission, is just as much a sin as doing something that should not be done.