v 17 Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.
Did you test yourself yesterday and then wonder about writing QED under it? James has one more vital test for your proof; we tend to think of sin as wrongdoing – did we break the rules or the law? Could someone point the finger and say – you did that? James goes way beyond that; sin is not merely wrong-doing it is also not right-doing. We fail God and sin by both sins of commission (what we do) and sins of omission (what we fail to do.) It is the missed opportunities for kindness, the times we have walked by on the other side and ignored the plight of the lonely and vulnerable.
I do not think it is appropriate to beat ourselves up about this one however. We cannot meet every need in the world; we cannot be the Good Samaritan in every situation – there are simply not enough hours in the day and pounds in my pocket for that. It means I have to be sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and give time, energy and money in the directions He points me to. I do not feel guilty or sinful because I fail to give money to every beggar on the street. I ask for God’s wisdom to discern where it is right and appropriate to act, God is a generous giver when it comes to wisdom for such action; James also wrote ‘If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. ‘ (James 1:5)