So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
(James 4:17 ESV)
This verse in the book of James raises the bar to a high level in respect to how we are to make decisions for ourselves and on behalf of others. Oftentimes, when faced with a decision, I do my best to look for guidance in the Bible and through prayer. I believe this is a wise course of action, however I am still sometimes left wondering what God would have me do in the given situation. And sometimes this lack of direction can leave me unable or unwilling to take any action at all, sometimes out of fear for doing the wrong thing.
Do What You Think Is Good
One of the principles we should take from this verse in James is that my inability to gain clear instruction from the Bible is not necessarily a justifiable excuse to take no action, especially when for the good of another. Sometimes we withhold doing good for another because we believe others are more qualified to help; or perhaps we don't know the best way to help someone in a given situation. But even so, we can do something for a friend in need, and the Bible clearly tells us we should just do what we think is good and helpful. Let's be honest; in most situations, we know the right thing to do. It is often our own laziness, unwillingness to make the effort, or choice to take the easy road rather than put ourselves out there for another person that is the excuse for our inaction. We are all very good at coming up with excuses of why we shouldn't help someone And James is telling us that this failure to do good for another is sinful. Because while we may not be the "expert" in every case, we are still Christians who know the command of God to love others. God doesn't command us to solve all problems for all people, He simply commands us to be kind and do good for our brothers and sisters. And when we do this, we fulfill His command to love one another. When we have done what we were able to do, that we have met God's expectation of us in aiding, doing good, for another.
Jesus; "Rule Breaker" for Good
Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. (Mark 3:1-6 ESV)
Mark 12:28-34 tells us what is to be the most important desire and highest calling for us: To love God with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself. Jesus says “There is no other commandment greater than these.” And we see Jesus demonstrating this in His interaction with the Pharisees and the man with the withered hand. Hoping to catch Jesus breaking the Sabbath in furtherance of their case against Him, the Pharisees watch as Jesus publicly heals the man's hand, which these Pharisees consider working on the Sabbath - something prohibited by their traditions. But what Jesus is trying to demonstrate in this healing is that it is always lawful to do good. The Pharisees were consumed with obeying the rules and traditions of their religion, while Jesus' concern was solely to love the Father and love others.
Just Do It! (sorry Nike)
Jas 4:17 covers a broader array of situations than what I am presenting here, and we should apply it to our decision making across the board, whether it be in all our daily choices impacting solely ourselves, and in those decisions that affect the well-being of another. And while we certainly owe it to God and our neighbor to give careful thought to our actions taken on behalf of another, the bottom line is that God expects that when we are able to take any loving action, we do it. We aren't to worry about whether we are the "best man" for the job, or whether we have all the answers that the other person seeks. We simply, to the best of our own abilities, act in love and care for another. Our sincere motivation will be both pleasing to God and beneficial to the object of our action. Will it be enough? We don't know what the outcome will always be, but we will know that we did our best to love a brother or sister; and we have faith that God can take our meager efforts and turn them into something great!
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 ESV)
Article originally posted at Fall And Die Blog: http://fallanddie.com/do-what-you-think-is-good/