Thursday, July 20, 2017
What Have I Failed to Do Today?
James 4:17 Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin.
The author is writing to the followers of Jesus Christ who were actively engaged in the life of the “ecclesia.” This was the gathering of those who were called out and seeking to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. Many of these were well-to-do individuals who had resources and were looking after their business practices, planning where they would go next and expand their enterprises. The problem was that they failed to see the needs surrounding them on a daily basis and instead, were concerned with building their wealth. The judgement here is straightforward. They were not sinning by the things they were doing, but by what they were not doing.
John Wesley expressed that condemnation was increased for those who committed sins of omission. When one is being led by the Spirit and the soul is impressed upon to act but does not, it becomes sin. This was not only because the act would not be delivered, but the longer the nudging of the Spirit is repressed, eventually we cease to recognize the Lord's voice. This will lead to our own spiritual demise, as well as hurt those to whom we should be ministering.
It’s so easy to allow our lives to become so occupied with the activities of the day that we fail to leave space for the nudging of the Holy Spirit. The distractions and noise of the world can create a space where we simply cannot hear the voice of the Lord. If we can’t hear the voice of the Lord, we cannot act!
I spend a lot of time in airplanes and I’ve noticed quite a trend with regular business travelers. No longer do people want to engage in conversation, but want to tune out the surrounding world. Ear buds are a hot commodity and most of the people who fly around me pop them into their ears even before they get settled into their seat. The message is loud and clear (or deafeningly silent) that they are going to become engrossed in their own little world and have no engagement with anyone around them. I feel sorry for the flight attendants who want to ask them a question or get their drink order. I’ve noticed more and more that the flight attendants have to touch people on the arm to get their attention. No one hears. I can’t imagine what would happen should there be an emergency, because people are no longer tuned into the announcements given on the plane. That means that the possibility of simply not acting on a command is very real. The instructions might be given, but never heard. In that case, who becomes responsible for the lack of action?
In the spiritual realm we are responsible for deafening our ears to the pleas of the Holy Spirit. Just because we weren’t listening, someone may go hungry tonight, or the sermon God intended may not be preached, or the child for whom we are to pray at this moment may step into an unhealthy situation. All of this is more about the sensitivity of the one who is to be growing spiritually than it is about acts of mercy. At the same time, we begin to see that the acts of mercy are simply a revelation of the relationship one has with the Lord. The more time one spends with the Lord, the more one will engage in acts which resemble the work of Jesus Christ. When we fail to do the things Jesus would do, then we are failing at reflect him to the world around us.
We must take seriously the call to growth in grace and the importance of hearing and acting upon the nudging of the Holy Spirit. Each evening we may want to take inventory of the day and ask ourselves, “what have I failed to do today?” In doing so, we open ourselves up to the correction of the Lord in our lives and hopefully tomorrow we will be able to serve even more faithfully.
Lord, open my ears to hear and act on your direction. Amen.