So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. - James 4:17
The last sentence of this paragraph seems to have an abrupt subject change, perhaps that’s why it feels like a such a truth bomb. If you fail to do the right thing, when you know the right thing, you have committed sin. Once you have received instruction from His Word, you can not claim you didn’t know. Many Christians live a life of regular sin, claiming Jesus died for their sins so they’re forgiven for all, but James puts that notion to rest here. You cannot claim His forgiveness as a blanket when you knowingly commit a sin. That’s a harsh truth for some.
While this exhortation comes at the end of a passage about boasting in our arrogance, it isn’t only referring to making plans without submitting to God. The warning has much broader implications and references all that James has given instruction thus far.
Just as a recap, some of the major things we have been instructed on in this letter include:
We are not do speak against or judge anyone - whether they have sinned against or not, we are to welcome without judgment, love without condition and forgive without limits. We know this truth now, so anything short of that is sin.
We are not to engage in conflict or quarrels with others, or place our expectations on them. We are not to make idols of the desires that are important to us (respect, love, security, reputation, or people), but keep Him on the throne of our hearts. We are to repent of our sin, resist the devil, and draw near to God. We are to be humble. We know this truth now, so anything short of that is sin.
We are to love our lives pure and righteous, in peace with all people. We are to be gentle and reasonable, showing others mercy and producing fruit with our lives. We know this truth now, so anything short of that is sin.
We are to guard our tongues. Our mouths should only breath blessings and never cursing. When we are speaking, we are acting as a representative of the kingdom, and our words should only promote peace and harmony. We know this truth now, so anything short of that is sin.
We are to work for the kingdom. We cannot say we have faith if our lives do not demonstrate that faith, so we must dedicate our lives to caring for others in need. We know this truth now, so anything short of that is sin.
We are to care of the poor. If we know of a need, we must take care of it. We don’t get to judge why the need is there or even if the need is valid, our job is only to take care of anyone in need. We know this truth now, so anything short of that is sin.
We are to be doers of the word, and we are not to grow angry. We are to persevere under trials, without complaints, keeping our eyes fixed on the one who is sovereign, knowing that we will have His blessing and protection. We are to seek His wisdom and be thankful for His amazing gifts. We know this truth now, so anything short of that is sin.
Whew. That’s quite a list...and that’s only from the book of James. It can feel overwhelming when we look at a list like that, and those of us who are doers have a tendency to start thinking of a way to get it all done. But the beautiful part of being a child of God is that we don’t have to. He will. We don’t have to accomplish a great big list of things for Him, we simply need to submit and allow Him to guide our paths. He will direct our actions and breathe our words if only we would let Him.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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