Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.
James 4:17 (New Living Translation)
James concludes this chapter by issuing us with a stern warning. He doesn’t get any more explicit than this – he reminds us that it is a sin to know the good that we ought to do and yet not do it. This to me is a near-impossible standard to uphold. God gives us the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament, which tells us the things we mustn’t do – kill, covet, steal, lie, etc; whereas Jesus tells us what we must do in the New Testament – to love God and our neighbour. A violation of either renders us sinful; it’s virtually impossible to acquit yourself of blame when the stakes are so high.
I propose that there are three things we can do with the life that God has given to us to steward. The good news is, these choices are ours to make. We can either spend it, keep it or invest it.
- Hedonistic – You can choose to spend it on your pleasures and make your life all about pursuing your goals and dreams. In other words, this life is all about you. I think we are most susceptible to this way of life.
- Egotistic – Or, you can keep it for yourself and be selfish, self-centred, and live like a hermit, as if no one owes you anything and you owe nothing to anyone. You inevitably become greedy, mercenary and inconsiderate. I think we unknowingly choose this way of life.
- Altruistic – Or (and I pray this you’d choose this!), you can invest it in the things of God and in His people, knowing that one day, God Himself will give you great returns – some of it on earth and most of it in heaven. Life is fast and it will soon past; only what is done for Christ will last.
Think about it for a little while – if everyone in this youth group invested their lives in the good that they ought to do, imagine what we would be capable of accomplishing for God! If the local church comes together, unified in one vision to bear fruit, I truly believe that we will be world-changers, history-makers and life-shapers! There’s so much power in the potential of us doing good unto all men.
So my question then to all of us is – What exactly is the good that we ought to do?
When Jesus ascended to Heaven, He gave us the Holy Spirit and left us with the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. These aren’t great suggestions but great instructions for all of us to carry out. The former tells us to love God and His people. The latter tells us to go out and touch and impact lives for Jesus. I don’t know about you, but if you call yourself a Christian, then these two great instructions must sound good to you; these are what we must invest our lives in if life is uncertain and death is certain. And to help us along, we can depend on the Holy Spirit; we are not alone at all in doing good for the glory of God. May we learn to involve God in all that we do in this short life for His glory alone!
I just ended a Skype interview with DL and it brings me to the mid-point of 15 one-hour interviews with the potential REAL candidates. One question asked during the session was, “Are you currently struggling with any addictions or sins?”
Through the interview sessions, everyone shared about different sins and struggles and it got me thinking about why we actually choose to sin. (Being caught in a bondage is different in that you actually do not realise that you’re in sin.) More often than not, sin is a choice. It was a choice for Eve, Adam, Cain, David, everyone else in between, and us, of course.
I’ve sinned plenty in my life, some with more dire consequences than others. Some sin hurt me, some hurt others but all sin hurts God. I believe that we sin because we seek its apparent fleshly pleasures which brings apparent (and short-lived) gratification to our carnal self.
Hence, I conclude that we choose to sin because we do not believe that the pleasures of God are better than the pleasures of our flesh. Our innate hedonistic nature prevents us from being contented and our ‘human’ nature drives us to seek satisfaction in physical/worldly pleasures.
That epiphany isn’t the scary bit. What frightens me more is that by choosing to derive pleasure from sin, we are indirectly mocking God – that He’s not good and/or able enough to satisfy our hearts’ desire. The next scary bit is – what then does our heart desire? More often than not, if we are honest with ourselves, we’ll actually realise that we prefer the pleasures of sin to the pleasures of God.
Oh God, how we need Your holiness to sanctify us!
How we need Your grace and mercy to overcome sin!
How we need Your love and forgiveness to cleanse us of all unrighteousness!