THE SIN OF DOING NOTHING
Nineteenth century English preacher Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) is widely known as the Prince of Preachers. Not only was he gifted with a powerful voice and a unique mastery of the English language, Spurgeon could also see truth where others could not. One of the phrases for which he became famous was “the sin of doing nothing.” A full biblical understanding of sin is not just about acts of transgression. Sin is sometimes the failure to do right. It is missing the mark of God’s ideal. Doing bad involves sins of commission. But the failure to do what’s right involves sins of omission. To Spurgeon too many focused almost entirely on the first and missed the importance of the second. Too many were doing a lot of things right. But, were they doing the right things?
The twelve tribes of Israel were all moving forward toward the Promised Land. Late into their journey, however, they arrived at some pleasant land just east of the Jordon River. Because the two tribes of Reuben and Gad were herdsmen, they longed just to settle down there with their families and give up their long trek. They went to Moses and the other leaders and asked, “…let this land be given to your servants as our possession. Do not make us cross the Jordan.” (Numbers 32:5) On the surface their request seemed innocent, simple, reasonable, polite, and harmless. But it marked a significant departure from the land that God had said should be theirs. Moses was not pleased they were jumping ship. His reply to them involved three accusations (Numbers 32:6-8; 14-15). 1. You’ve abandoned your mission. “Shall your countrymen go to war while you sit here?” (32:6) This may have been a good and desirable location to raise their family and livestock, but God had asked them to inhabit the land He had chosen. We too face the danger of being involved in respectable things – but are they the right things of God’s choosing?
2. You’ve impacted your fellow soldiers. In a way the leaders of Gad and Reuben were sowing discord among the brethren. They wanted to march to their own drumbeat. They were setting the wrong tone and example for others and depriving the families within these two tribes the full bounty of God’s Promised Land. (32:7) 3. You’ve sinned against God. “You are repeating the sins of your fathers,” Moses accused them. (Num. 32:14, 20-24)
Moses called them to repent of “the sin of doing nothing” and get going along with the other people of God. In the final analysis, Moses negotiated a compromise – God’s second best for the tribes of Reuben and Gad – but had them commit to stay and fight with the rest of the nation until the land had been subdued and possessed.
The sin of doing nothing at first glance seems harmless but, in every situation, it keeps us from God’s best. Let us not allow the good to become the chief enemy of the best.
Be blessed my friend. Glen (Pitts) The Barnabas Group / Loads of Love Matthew 28:19-20; II Samuel 24:24