Omitting Sins of Omission
“Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).
We often call such a sin, a sin of omission: Things we should do, but don’t. I have to confess that I don’t think about these sins too often. It is the things that I should not do, but do anyway that often haunt me. From my observation this seems to be true for a lot of people. We know we should not steal, cheat, lie, gossip, blow our top, fornicate, commit adultery, covet. The list could go on and on. These sins impact our lives, other lives and sometimes impact them immediately. Because of this we seem to be more conscious of them. However, we don’t think too often of the things we are supposed be doing, but don’t. We really don’t think about how not doing these things impacts our relationship with God in the long run. We don’t pray as often as we should; or study the Bible regularly. We don’t look out for others interests more than our own. We don’t share the gospel when opportunities are afforded to us. While not praying today, or studying today, or evangelizing today won’t really effect today, it can cause devastating effects to your relationship with God in the long run if most days are like “today.”
As I was studying about Noah, these thoughts took over. What if Noah had not built the ark? What if that was his sin of omission? What if Noah said, “I can’t get to that today. I’m too tired, have too much to do today, don’t feel like it.” What if he had that attitude for too many “todays”? Easy answer right. He would have drowned and so would his family. Noah might have counted not working on the ark as a minor sin of omission, but the long term effects would have cost him his life.
Noah was a righteous and blameless man in his generation. Genesis 6:9 says that he walked with God. He could have rested on those laurels and felt his salvation was secure. He could have thought, “I don’t cheat, steal, lie, commit adultery, etc. If I don’t get around to building the ark, God will find a way to save me.” Noah, with all his upright living, would have been swept away by a rush of water like every other person on the earth. The point is simple: Sins of omission, as we like to call them, make a difference. How do I stop committing the sins of omission?
The most effective way that I have found to help me do the things that I should do is to set goals and prioritize those goals. I have to make time every day to study the Bible. To do that I must prioritize that time and let nothing interrupt it. The same could be said about prayer, except prayer doesn’t always require a 1 hour reservation. I can pray in my car while driving, talking to God like talking to a friend. I can take a moment at lunch, or at morning and afternoon breaks for a short conversation. I can speak with him at night prior to sleeping and in the morning as I rise from my bed. A prayer can be two minutes or two hours. Everyday I can pray without ceasing. Every week I can choose someone I know with needs and assist those needs. If every Christian assisted just one brother or sister a week, so much could be accomplished to lift up God’s church. I can choose one person a week to try to open up a door to talk about Christ. Set your goals and then create the plan to meet them.
If I understand Genesis 6:3 correctly, Noah had 120 years to build the ark. If I accurately understand the timeline given in Genesis 6-9, Noah did it in 100. Think what you could accomplish if you worked like Noah. Think how close you would be to your brethren and to God. Think about how many new brothers and sisters in Christ you would have. Find a way to serve the Lord every day and soon those sins of omission will be omitted.
- Norm Webb, Jr.