SINS OF COMMISSION AND OMISSION
(James 4:17) Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
Throughout the history of the Church sin has been viewed as something you do. We have thought in terms of committing sins such as lying, stealing, profanity, and the like. But do we have it in our minds that sin is also something we don't do? That we might be omitting from our lives something we should be doing but have neglected?
Sins of commission are external and are usually easily identified. That person is drunk. He is smoking marijuana. She is shoplifting. But sins of omission are internal. Nobody can usually tell you are committing this kind of sin. God told you do to do something and you're not doing it. You can look self-righteous, but God knows the sin of the heart.
Here are three classic cases from Scripture that showcase sins of omission:
- Saul was supposed to utterly destroy the Amalekites. (1 Sam 15:3) Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’” But when it came down to it he didn't do what the Lord told him to do. (1 Sam 15:9) But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them . . . Saul made an excuse that the people spared some of the animals to sacrifice to the Lord of which Samuel responded with the classic statement: (1 Sam 15:22) . . . “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.
- Jonah was told to go to Nineveh and preach impending judgment from the Lord. But what did he do? He went the opposite way and took a ship to Tarshish and eventually ended up in the belly of a big fish. The Lord deals heavily with the sin of omission just as He does with the sin of commission. All sin is sin!
- The Good Samaritan reached out to the man who was mugged on the road to Jericho. But before that there was a priest and a Levite who saw the man's condition and walked away.
What might be the thing God has called you to do that you have been neglecting? Is there a friend in trouble that needs your help and you are not responding? Is there someone you need to ask forgiveness from, but you are avoiding the person and because you have your pride? Is your child becoming spoiled because you are afraid to correct him or her according to Scripture? Has God been calling you to serve in some ministry, but you are dragging your feet because you are afraid to commit? Have you been desiring to tithe regularly but you are holding out because you are afraid of your security? Has the Lord been telling you to spend more time with your family but work always comes first? Have you made a promise to someone but haven't come through?
We usually confess sins of commission but let's ask the Lord to search our hearts for sins of omission. Perhaps the key to it all is submission. Giving up that hassling hesitation and submitting to the plan of the Lord.
(Psa 139:23-24) Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.