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The sin of neglect

Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil. Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it. James 4:16-17 NLT

James, from the text, continues to remind the believers who attributes their success to their own abilities and will not give the credit to God. It is like the Israelites when they were given a stern warning: “Though He scoffs at the scoffers, Yet He gives grace to the needy” (“Proverbs 3:34 NASB). Boasting is worthless for it neglects giving God the glory. Paul expressed his total dependence on God when he was going through difficulties and attributed the strength he receives during those times to God who gives him grace. “‘Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me’” (2 Corinthians 12:9). So, James closes out the chapter by reminding the believers that we are committing the sin of omission when we know that we are supposed to be living our lives in total dependence and surrender to God instead we take matters into our hands and brag if we succeed in our accomplishments. It is a sin when we know what we ought to do as Christians and then not do it. Jesus put this sin into focus in the Parable of the Good Samaritan when the priests ignored their responsibility and did not bother to help (see Luke 10:30-35). It is an affront to God when we know that we are commanded by Him to do good to others and neglect it. Paul told Titus to remind the people of God about this matter: “Let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful” (Titus 3:14 ESV). Neglecting what we ought to do will not only lead to being unfruitful but it will also rob God of the glory He deserves. “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people… But if you do what is wrong, you will be paid back for the wrong you have done. For God has no favorites” (Colossians 3:23, 25). When we neglect to do what is expected of us because we are His children is equal to ignoring His lordship over our lives. But when we do what we ought to do, we will be rewarded. “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up” (Galatians 6:9).


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