Below is a devotional email sent out by Proverbs 31 Ministries, and written by Glynnis Whitwer, Director of Writing Team and Senior Editor of P31 Woman Magazine.
23 Mar 2012
“If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” James 4:17 (NIV)It was just like any other day when my friend felt a lump in her leg. Thinking it was nothing, she didn’t worry. A week later it was bigger. She didn’t ignore it any longer, but made an appointment with her doctor. Tests confirmed the quiet suspicions; it was cancer.
In the past five years, friends have rallied around her with prayer and practical support. For a while I was able to help intermittently. Then I went through a season of constant family and work needs, and neglected to contact my friend … for months.
Occasionally she would pop into my mind, and I would think of some way to bless her. I knew her family loved brownies, maybe I could bake some as a treat. Perhaps she’d like to get out and walk around the mall. A funny card would cheer her up.
But good intentions slipped away and rationalizations took their place.
One morning I read James 4:17. It was as if God took a highlighter, swiped it over the words and wrote my friend’s name in the margin:
“If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”
I immediately stopped reading and rushed to my computer. Fingers furiously typed an apology for being a distant friend, and asked if I could bring her lunch. We set a date and had a great time of catching up and prayer.
Thankfully God prompted me that day to follow through on my good idea. But my heart aches at the times I’ve either ignored or forgot those promptings. It’s so easy to find reasons why not to do something. Excuses pop up like weeds. However, today’s verse makes it clear that sometimes something else is at stake. It’s not like forgetting to buy milk at the store; if there is good God is calling us to do – and we don’t – it’s sin.
I’ve learned when I listen to the nudge in my spirit to do good, I’m always part of God’s bigger plan. It’s like God is assembling a jigsaw puzzle with a beautiful picture only He can see as He asks me to care for the needs of others. To do this, He needs me to listen for His direction, and then prioritize my obedience. Not question, dismiss or excuse it away.
I’ll be honest. Sometimes the needs of others overwhelm me. Without meaning to, I become numb, even to those around me. But then God reminds me I only have to do my part – and He’ll tell me what that is. Sometimes my part is to take a friend lunch. Sometimes my part involves more.
I wonder what would happen if I always obeyed? And what if I wasn’t the only one? What if everyone leaned in when God whispered, “Will you?” What if, instead of rationalizing why my little effort won’t make a big difference, I just trusted God had a bigger plan … and I simply obeyed.
It’s got to start with me. Today. And the good I know I should do. No more “buts” about it.
Dear Lord, thank You for never withholding good from me. Forgive me for the times I’ve minimized this in my own life, or found excuses of why I can’t do good for someone else. I long to be a woman who reflects You in all I do. Help me to follow through when I know I should. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.