Ted preached about this several years ago. I was new to the church, learning what it meant to have a relationship with God, and he laid out this awesome message about being a Christ-follower. It flew right over my head. It sounded good and all (if you’ve ever heard Ted preach you would know what I mean), but it didn’t stick. “If you know the right thing to do and you don’t do it, it’s a sin.” “Ok,” I thought, “I’ll work on that.” You see at the time, I was still embracing this whole Jesus-loves-me-and-wants-to-have-a-relationship-with-me thing. I was, as Paul describes in Corinthians, a babe. As I’ve grown in faith, though, I have a better understanding of this scripture. And because of the responsibility it evokes, it makes it on the top ten list:
“If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” (NIV)
Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, popular or fun. In fact, doing the right thing, according to Jesus, is like going through the narrow gate. Much easier is it to travel the road that is wide, but that’s the road that leads to destruction, as tempting as it may be. I’ve seen this first hand with my ministry: the enemy attacks (surprise!) and I lose the vision of my calling. This happened recently in an ever so subtle way. Of course I was certain that God was with me, but I got distracted. I convinced myself that I had two choices: either grow my relationships within the church or continue to go out and build relationships with those on the corner. It seemed like I had a clear choice. But really, there should be no choice. Setting aside the ministry to become more invested in the church, even for a brief time, was the easy way. I say easy because sometimes it’s challenging to minister to the homeless. At times it’s frustrating, lonely and heart-breaking. Some days I spend more time on the corners or in the camps than I do with my family. And though some of the guys drift off or move on, you can only pray that the seed planted will bear fruit in time. The right thing to do, though, is to stick with it, serve and love and develop those relationships that will save. This is what James meant when he spoke of doing the right thing. Because in the end, doing the right thing not only keeps me from sin, but might also keep another from sinning as well.