James 4:17 Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it sins.
Nestled in a passage of scripture many call the “sin of presumption” is this passage about not acting on the good we ought to do. Prior to this specific line is a small discourse on presuming that there is a tomorrow. I believe in this message James is pointing out that the readers have lost their focus. They have forgotten that life is short and need to be reminded of that fact.
Now we read the haunting passage of knowing the good we ought to do and not acting on it is sin. What keeps me from doing the good that I know I ought to do? I believe those James was talking to a group who was caught up in their material possessions and could not see what was right in front of them. This passage reminds me of that fact and more.
Many times I am caught up in my future plans and I do not see the work that God has laid out for me in that moment. In that moment, I have something right in front of me that God expects me to take care of, but I am caught up in what I think I want to do “out there”.
Another obstacle that keeps me from doing the good I ought to is fear. My fear of failure gets in the way. What if I attempt to do the good and fail at it? What will people think of me? What will I think of myself? I also have a fear that someone may think I am doing the good for wrong motives…to draw attention to myself. Fear gets in the way.
Another obstacle that gets in the way is laziness. Many times, I see what I ought to do and I’m just too lazy to get up and o it. I may procrastinate until it’s too late. I may find something else to do in order to avoid the work it may take to accomplish the good task.
Busyness stands in the way as well. I use the excuse that I am just too busy to take care of that good deed. I rationalize that someone else will step up and take care of that task. Or, I truly do become so busy that I do not make the deed a priority and realize I am too late. I also will use, “Life just gets in the way.” as an excuse.
No matter what the obstacle is, they are all excuses. As Galatians 6:10 suggests, we ought to do good to all. I need to change my mind set to one that looks for the good to do in every situation that I am in. Once I change my mind and attitude, it becomes easier to see the good I ought to do and act upon it.
1. Describe a situation where you saw the good you should have done and did not act upon it.
2. Explain some of the excuses you use to avoid doing the good.
3. Describe an instance that is happening in your life right now where you should or can be acting upon.
4. Make a commitment to someone today around doing the good you ought to do right now. Ask them to hold you accountable in that action.---------------------------------------
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