“Morning by morning, O Lord, you hear my voice”

Psalm 5:3


(Please read James 4:17)

January 18

The Bible includes about five “definitions” of sin —passages that include the phrases “sin is” or “is sin.” But one in particular brings many of us more insight than comfort. It’s the verse in our text: Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin (NAS).

In 20 words James invalidated 20 years’ worth of excuses for some of us. It would be more comfortable for us if we could reserve that verse for only the great, general decisions of life, but the teaching seems rather to apply to daily, down-to-earth situations like those James had been discussing in Chapter 4. The immediate context has to do with people postponing things such as business decisions and doing “this or that,” which sure sounds like personal matters.

Using this verse to test some of our excuses is not complicated. Just survey the situation, look at the alternatives, and apply this verse. Try that process next Sunday, when the choices are a full day of recreation or attending a church service first. Try it on Wednesday afternoon, when the choice is between going to a sparsely attended midweek service and watching television for hours. Try it when you are making your budget and the question is how much to give to the church. Try it any day when the choice is between devoting more time to your children and spending time on something not half so important. Try it and see what you decide.

Aren’t you glad James made things so simple?

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