Doing Nothing Equals Something


  Forgive us our debts…Matthew 6:12 

 In fact, we can sin against God by omission — by doing nothing.  As James 4:17 tells us, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”  Therefore, if we are involved in a conflict and neglect opportunities to serve others (by failing to bear their burdens, gently restore them, etc.), we are guilty of sin in God’s eyes.

Taken from  The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 119

Food for Thought

By neglecting to do good, we end up neglecting God.

Have you ever been in a situation and you just knew you were being asked to do something good, say something good, be something good — but you didn’t do it, say it, or be it?  No doubt we all have.  In the wake of those moments, we often feel like we’ve neglected someone.  But how often do we live with the awareness that we’ve neglected God in those moments?

When we do something unto the least of our brothers or sisters, we’re doing it as unto the Lord.  And when we don’t something unto the least of our brothers and sisters, we’re not doing it unto the Lord.  Omission by another name is neglect.  And neglect in God’s eyes is sin. Sincerely confess it to God, and ask him to help you to “do good” in that relationship in the future.


My omission as of late is to not talk about God to non-believers. I talked with my son about this. The neighbor girl is a good example, as is his cousins, who we see on holidays. And his gramma, my mom, who he loves unconditionally.

BUT I can talk blue in the face to him about it, but he needs to see me do it.

I need to talk to my Tupperware lady, the guy down the street who dislikes Christians, the neighbor girls parents, my mother and family. These are actual people who we already have relationships with. Should be easy, right?

I also have a hard time just talking to strangers, being nice and kind. Going out of my way to be the first to smile, say hello, how are you sort of thing. I have fought this for a long time, the reason?

My mother talks to strangers and it always embarrassed me, from the earliest times I can remember it until now. Maybe it was the fact she would tell embarrassing things about me to strangers. Maybe it was because I saw the looks on the people faces behind my mothers back.

Anyway, on Monday, I resolved to talk to people.

1. the young guy at grocery store standing outside looking a bit forlorn, I said Hi, how are you today?.

2. Asked the girl with the crutches and cast on her foot at the craft store what happened to her foot. Of course that led into a conversation about my foot and how it was broken. (she broke hers doing gymnastics)

3. a woman in line before me was buying at least 600 t-shirts, they all had the security tags on them and it was taking some time. So I asked her what she was buying them for and I dropped my stuff and started helping the cashier take off the tags while she rang up. She was buying the t-shirts to send to Mexico for poor kids and we then talked about sending bibles to foreign countries.  She thanked me for the help and I told her ‘bless you’.

My son was with me during all these exchanges and I asked him what he thought. He was ok with all of them except asking the girl about the foot, because I mentioned that he and I were wrestling when it happened to me. (Did I mention the girl was about my sons age, kinda cute, too) 😉

So, it’s pretty painful for me to get out of my comfort zone, so to speak. I’d much rather just hang my head, not get in anybodies way and go about my business of the day.

Is this how Jesus is telling us how to live?

What is your sin of omission?

Blessings, The Home Engineer





4 responses »

  1. Or like the time “someone” sent you an email bemoaning his squat pained thighs and you ignored him?

    Just kidding.

    Yes, they’re much better now, thanks.
    Oh my goodness, I just hadn’t gotten around to saying anything clever to you! Here: poor pooorr baby, how are those thighs?

    Good post.

    I think embarrassing your kids is something Jesus always wants us to do. I know I’ve done it regularly–like last week when my youngest and his girl got a flat on the interstate and I showed up to help change it wearing a batter’s helmet (with face guard) to protect me from traffic.

    It was classic.
    That would have been classic, i wish i could have seen that…..

  2. you said “what is your sin of omisson?”…that’s a hard one….there is this elderly lady who called a week ago (and I have been avoiding returning her call)..whenver we talk, she “sucks me dry” emotionally…she will give me a tongue lashing for not returning her call earlier..she is on a tight budget (it’s long distance for her) and since I don’t have caller ID I have been letting the answering machine pick up the calls in case it is her….do I have to call her back? 🙂 I did send her a package a month ago w/ some pictures, some apples from our orchard…etc. even 2 of her 3 living children refuse to have much to do w/ her….I feel so cold and heartless but at the same time, I justify my avoidance in the name of “stress management”…any thoughts? I will call her if you think I should 🙂
    Well, Doug, i guess i would ask, why does she call you? is it because she is lonely? does she needs some sort of mentoring or counseling? How do you know her? (you can e-mail me if you want).
    If its because she is lonely and/or needs counseling, she should be directed to call a woman, its not a good idea at any age to have a mentor of opposite sex. If she has a church she needs to be directed to talk to the clergy in charge there.
    Given what you have told me, a few minutes of listening to her isnt much stress, but i do know what you mean, i deal with that with my mother, she sucks me dry, nothing good to say, mean and discontent, etc.
    I could help more if i knew more of the situation.
    Maybe if there is noother option, set a time she can call or you call her, ie. once a month, then you psych yourself up for it, so to speak. (that is what i do w/my mom)
    But yeah, don’t avoid her, it only makes her more cranky when she talks to you :). But Kevin is right, whatever you decide to do ‘own it’.
    hope that helps.

  3. DM,

    I know you were asking Kristina, but I wanted to add my two cents.

    Why do you feel you “owe” this person your time and emotional energy?

    No matter what we choose to do–or not do–I think we need to own the decision. If you are not going to talk to her, don’t talk to her and own it. It takes much more emotional energy to avoid the call than to simply give yourself permission to do the thing you are doing anyway–not talking to her.

    So answer your phone. If it’s her and you don’t want to talk to her, tell her so. If you can’t own that decision then make a decision to talk to her.

    How long do we all spend pretending we aren’t who we are or we aren’t doing what we are doing?

    Again, my two cents.

  4. I saw your reply W.C…that is a totally new way for me to look @ of the things I’m hung up on is the fact that We’re supposed to “visit” orphans and Widows in their affliction (ie make them a priority in terms of outreach) plus the host of verses that talk about how God has a special place in his heart for the widow (which she is)..just a mean one 🙂 she used to live w/ us for a couple of months…and over that time I realized that most of the problem seems to be she had a very hard life (abusive husband) so I “know” I should cut her some slack….but the selfish part of me hates those phone calls where unless I listen for 30 minutes I have to be down right rude….you are right on when you said “how long do we spend pretending….” appreciate your comment.

    We can only extend ourselves so far, hopefully there is someone closer to her who can be of some comfort and company to her. Maybe thats what your outreach can be, getting someone closer to her and same age, sex, etc to visit her. Its always a tough call, especially when the one we are suppose to love isnt very love-able.

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