The Responsibility of Knowing: Doing Good or Choosing Sin

“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” James 4:17 ESV

Taking care of the less than, the widow, the orphan, the have-nots has always been part of the DNA of God’s people.

Part of God’s moral law included not reaping the edges of their fields during harvest to help provide for the poor and foreigner in their midst. (Leviticus 19:9-10)

James 1:27 (ESV) states:

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

One of the best ways to honor God is to take care of those with no voice and no means. Yet it is valuable to note the counter balance.

If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 2 Thessalonians 3:10b ESV

And often we allow these two statements to stand in opposition to each other creating a quagmire in our minds and then we end up not caring for those who need help. So what is the answer?

Do good. The good we know we ought to do.

For some this will look like making up bags for pan-handlers with food, gift-cards, maybe even a card with directions to other resources to help them.

Others will donate money to their church’s benevolence fund or food pantry.

Maybe someone will donate time at a homeless shelter or Community Rescue Mission.

Perhaps God may call someone to open a new resource to help widows or an orphanage to help kids.

Some may become foster parents while others may adopt children.

Maybe someone will lobby for legislation to help widows keep health insurance or to get orphans appropriate care.

We must do the good we know to do. We cannot let the messiness of life keep us from showing the love of God. We MUST care. Further we must not give to bring ourselves glory. Instead we need to bring God glory as we love and do good.

Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory,
    for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness! Psalm 115:1 ESV

We do good not to make ourselves look good, but to honor God, to please Him. When we don’t do the good we know we ought to do, we sin against God and against those who need help the most.

Father I confess that too often I do not do the good I know to do because I am concerned about the messiness of getting involved. Forgive me for overlooking those who need help the most. Help me care for orphans, widows, and those who need help that I may bring You glory and honor in word and deed. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.