If I asked you to think of the sin that no one else seems to be talking about, what do you think that might be?
When you think of sin or sinful behavior, what do you think about?
Perhaps you think about sexual morality, pride or disrespect
What about not being as good as you could be?
Since sins we commit are certainly easier to identify, sins of omission have a dangerous potential to set us firmly on a path to a lukewarm faith.
If you’re not familiar with lukewarm faith, let me explain a bit what I mean. In James 4:17, we have this really strong statement:
“If anyone then knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”
That seems a bit extreme, right? Does it mean that at any time, if you know what you should do, and choose not to do it, then it is considered committing a sin? Enough of missing the mark we’re supposed to hit, and something that Jesus had to die for since He died for our sins? Not just when you steal something and you’re not supposed to steal; not just when you lie, not when you’re deceitful; not when you’re sexually immoral, and the list we know of. But sins of omission are significant too?
Think about it: Jesus had to die for the time where you should have offered an encouraging word and chose not to? That’s kind of crazy, right?
Think about if you truly understand what God wants you to do in any given situation and you choose not to do it. What is it from His perspective? It’s sinful, and you might be tempted to think the Bible states this one isolated statement. Actually, Jesus echoes the sentiment multiple times in the Gospels!
One that comes to mind the most is the parable of the talents. The master gives five talents to one servant, two talents to another servant, and one talent to a third servant. The third servant knows what he should do — which is take that investment and multiply it. He chooses not to do what he knows he should do. The master’s reaction to that is, Yeah, good luck buddy. You’re not at my servant anymore.
Another example that comes to mind is when Jesus talks about separating the sheep from the goats, based on what they chose not to do.
It’s what they omitted from their life that led to them being ostracized and separated and left outside of God’s kingdom.
In the Book of James, there is also discussion about the sins of omission. It says that we have a tendency — when we think of sin — to think only of those things we have done that we should not have done.
I know in my own confessions before the Lord I tend to focus on these kinds of sins, but I should also consider and ask for help about those ways in which I have failed to do what the Lord has commanded me or is clearly leading me to do.
Perhaps I did not reach out to help a neighbor in need, or perhaps I failed to bear witness to a coworker when I had the opportunity. These also are sins for which I must seek God’s forgiveness and help to be better in the future.
When you start to consider the world and God with this perspective — when you start to recognize those shortcomings as being really serious — it really both convicts and guards your heart in a very specific way
When you don’t recognize your sins of omission, it’s easy to get lulled into a false sense of security and rightness. It’s easy to think we’re not that bad. We lose an appropriate urgency to grow, to repent, to continue to refine our character and behavior.
We mistakenly think we just settle in right where we are and throw it into autopilot. Not stealing, not getting drunk, not cursing, being faithful to my spouse. All good! What more could I do?
What more could I aspire to? Hmm… Can’t think of anything.
This mindset is a trap. It is a trap because when this is where you live, you will inevitably walk closer and closer towards a lukewarm faith, a faith that says, I don’t really need anything from God. I’m good. I’ve got my life figured out. I don’t need help.
The Bible is filled with examples of godly men and women that took their foot off the gas and took their eye off the prize and ultimately suffered the consequences of it.
The Old Testament specifically is littered with people that had incredible promise, who started faithfully following God obeying his commands, and then for one reason or another, fell off the path, decided to stray and make compromises.
It was often because they put themselves in this lukewarm mindset and situation. I’m in a good place. I don’t have to keep my guard up, do anymore. Some might be thinking of the word complacency with all this in mind.
Sins of omission have a remarkably powerful way of leading us to this place without our awareness of it.
You don’t want this to happen to you.
To be clear, it’s not the goal that every decision that you make has a possible burden of sinful guilt, but that you need to be aware and repenting about sins of omission, to be more mindful of God’s voice and Biblical teachings, and possibly doing more of what God clearly wants you to do.
Even though all of us need to recognize where we fall short, in the same way, all of us need to focus on repentance and becoming like Jesus, who we know it is said, “…for freedom that Christ has set us free.”
The point isn’t, “In addition to not doing bad stuff, now I have to feel bad when I don’t do all the good stuff.” The point is simply that all of us have very far to go when it comes to living like Jesus, right?
All of us have a long way to go, and a lot of ground to cover — enough ground that not one of us will ever reach the point where we can take our foot off the gas pedal and throw it into autopilot. So, don’t settle. Don’t become complacent.
Sins of omission are just one thing that you can point to and say, Yep, I still need Jesus.