James 4:17 Therefore, to him who knows to do
good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
Lying, cheating, lusting, and steeling are all sinful
activities. When we think of engaging in sinful activity, perhaps the first
things that may come to our mind is doing the things that we should not do. In
our text, James reminds us that there is another category of sinful activity to
avoid, the sins of omission.
Failing to do the right thing is wrong. The recent sexual abuse scandal surrounding the Penn State football program is a reminder of this fact. At this point there is conflicting information as to what did and what did not happen. The person who apparently first discovered the abuse allegedly reported it to his superiors. Given the nature of the crime it appears that he should have taken more aggressive action to prevent future abuse. He failed to act to the degree a reasonable person should act in protecting the most vulnerable. Those to whom the information was relayed likewise apparently failed to act in an appropriate way in confronting the abuser and reporting his actions to the police for further investigation.
Christians are called to a higher standard. We must not only not do the wrong thing, but we must also not fail to do the right thing.