Sins of Omission

Scripture: James 4:17, ‘Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.’


Observations: Theologians talk about two types of sin – sins of commission and sins of omission. Sins of commission are when we do what we ought not to do i.e. when we break God’s law. For example to steal or lie are sins of commission. Sins of omission, on the other hand, are when we don’t do what we ought to do i.e. when we don’t live up to God’s character. For example, when we don’t love our neighbour, or help the poor, or worship God in all that we do, we commit sins of omission. James is talking about sins of omission. If we ‘know the good we ought to do and don’t do it we sin.’ In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the Samaritan, in helping the injured man, did what he ought to do, he acted according to God’s character. But the Priest and the Levite sinned by ignoring the plight of the injured man. They didn’t act according to God’s character.


Application: What sins of omission are you guilty of? What things do you know that you ought to do, but don’t? It might be how you use your money. Maybe you spend it all on yourself and you give very little back to God, or to help those in need. Maybe it’s how you use your time. Maybe you don’t make any space in your day to pray and listen to God, or in your week to worship with God’s people, or encourage others through small groups, or to help people in need. Maybe it’s how you use your talents. Maybe you use your talents for your own pleasure, or for your own purposes, instead of for building God’s kingdom and serving others. What sins of omission do you need to confess today?


Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, so often I think of sin in doing what I shouldn’t do, but the truth is I sin more by not doing what I should do. Lord, I don’t use my treasure, time and talents as well as I could to do Your will and serve others, instead I use what You have given me for selfish purposes. Lord, confess that in serving myself I have sinned and fallen short of Your will for my life. Lord, forgive me, and help to live according to Your character by the power of the Holy Spirit. Lord, make me more like Jesus, who always did Your will and perfectly lived according to Your character. In his name I pray. Amen.


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