James 4:17 (New International Version)

Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.

This verse has haunted me since I was a young girl.

Seeing a piece of trash as I am walking and not picking it up but knowing that I should….

is that sin?

Hearng that someone is sick and not visiting them or sending them a card but knowing that I should…

is that sin?

I’ve asked myself this question over and over in different situations in my life.

The truth is, I don’t know where the boundary lies with this verse.

But last night, I saw a little “hint” of what James might have been talking about right in my own home.

One of our kids needed something and I brought it to them.  As they sat eating and watching TV, I stood with the item and waited to hand it to them.  Several things needed to be done before they could use it, and I felt as if they expected me or Tim to do “all the work” in getting things set up.

I was frustrated at their lack of effort to jump in with a “thank you” and “here let me help” and finally had to speak up.

My child’s initial reaction to my irritation was “But I didn’t do anything wrong,” which was true.   However, my next words were the words that seemed to echo exactly the words of James in James 4:17.

I replied,

“It’s not what you did that I am upset about.  It’s what you didn’t do.”

Suddenly James’ words seemed to make sense in a whole new way.

It’s an attitude thing.

It’s a total awareness of “good” right in front of me that I walk away from or ignore that draws me into question.

Just as I long for my children to do good when they see the need right in front of their faces, I believe God longs for us to do the same kind of good.

Not just talk about doing good or being good but actually LIVE it out.

What am I going to do today?

My prayer is that I will see the good I need to do and DO IT.

The extra mile kind-of good. 

Wondering what God will set before each of us today and praying that we will choose to step out and do the good we are called to do.

Does anyone else have thoughts on this verse?  I’d love to hear them.