All of my life I have heard about the commission of sin. I have heard about how you should ask God to forgive you for the sins you have committed. They say confession is good for the soul. You are to name them and then ask God for forgiveness. Just recently I have come across an article that aroused my interest. I hope it peaks yours as well.
The article was about the omission of sin; the omission of what? The omission of sin? That was a new idea or thought for me. James 4:17 says this, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” In the Message it says this, “As it is, you are full of your grandiose selves. All such vaunting self-importance is evil. In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you is evil.” In other words the sin of omission is a sin that is a result of knowing we should do something for the good of God or something that God calls us to do and we don’t do it even though we know we should. Ouch! How many times have I not done something I know I should have done, but didn’t? How many times did God lead me to speak up or step in and I didn’t? How many times should I have helped a friend in need, but didn’t?
In Romans 7:14-20 Paul talks about both the commission of sins and the omission of sins when he says he does what he doesn’t want to do and doesn’t do what he knows he should do and really wants to do. I often confess those things I know I did wrong. I often ask God to forgive me of my sins that I have committed, but when is the last time I asked God to forgive me for those times I should have done something, said something and didn’t? I can remember times when I walked away or someone else has walked away and I felt guilty because I didn’t speak up. I don’t remember confessing that to God. I kept it to myself. Did I really think God did not know about that time?
In this article it talked about the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10:30-37. We often talk about who is our neighbor and this story comes up. When I read it again with the omission of sins on my mind it changes things. We know the first two men pass by are a Priest and a Levite. Now I am thinking that both of these characters have taught about being good servants and doing what God has called us to do. Even if they haven’t taught it I am pretty sure they knew what they were supposed to do in this situation, but they failed to do it. Did either of these men later pray for the omission of sins? Did they ask for God to forgive them for their not doing when they should have? The third man comes along and does what he knows is right and is supposed to do. It’s more than just a “who is your neighbor” story. Jesus used this example to teach that when we do not do what we know we should do at the time we are to do it we have failed him and those we could have helped. We have not followed God’s commands to love one another and to serve. That in itself is sinful. We have committed a sin; a sin of omission.
In Matthew 25:31-46 we are given a list of people whom we are to serve and to assist…even offer God to. When we have the opportunity to do it and we don’t again we have sinned. If we know there are people in our communities that are hungry and we do nothing that is a sin. When we have a chance to visit those who are sick and we pass the opportunity by because of selfish motives (I don’t like the hospital; I am too busy, I am afraid it might be catching; I don’t know how to pray) we have sinned. I could go on, but you get the point.
When God calls us to do something and we willingly and knowingly don’t do it we have committed a sin. I am appalled at the number of times I knew what I was supposed to do and didn’t do it. How many times have I looked at my phone when it rang and knew the person on the other end was a talker, or a complainer or a real downer and I didn’t answer the phone? How many times have I missed the opportunity to witness and didn’t? The omission of sins can be just as great as the commission of sins.
Galatians 6:9 reminds us, “Let’s not get tired of doing good, because in time we’ll have a harvest if we don’t give up.” It’s easy to commit sins. We know those sins that we commit everyday like tell little white lies (and we think its ok), we gossip (knowing we shouldn’t), we covet what our neighbors have (oh, we say we don’t, but we do don’t we?)And then there is stealing time from our employers (we need to read our email or see the latest post or etc.). We are good about confessing these and a few others.
I have worked on getting sin out of my life…yes I have failed many times over. I have confessed those times I have missed the mark because of something I have done or said. Now I will be working on the omission of sin in my life. Yes, I will be adding that to my prayers as well.
I will work a little harder on those sins and try to make the list a little smaller. I will ask God to make me more aware of those times I should have…. But, didn’t.
We talk in our churches about the committing of sins. Maybe, it’s time we hear some sermons on the omission of sins. We just might need to be made aware of what it is and how often we commit those kinds of sin.
Let me reiterate a sin of omission is a sin that is the result of not doing something God’s Word teaches that we should do. When we read those words it’s kind of scary isn’t it? God forgives us of our sin whether it’s the sin of commission or the sin of omission. What he wants from us is to learn from our sin and do better next time.
“So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service. Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.” Romans 12-1:2
Dear God: I often come asking for forgiveness of my sins. My mind usually goes to the things I have done wrong; those sins I have committed. Now I know I need to ask forgiveness for those times you have led me to do something, say something, or respond in a way and didn’t. When I am about ready to commit a sin you often peck me on the shoulder. I ask you to push a little harder at me when I turn my back and walk away from doing those things I should. Thank you for forgiving me and loving me and accepting me when I mess up sometimes so often. Thank you for your grace, mercy and your peace. Amen.