Have you ever been in a situation where you knew what the right thing to do was, and you didn’t do it? I’m not talking about not doing something wrong or immoral. I’m talking about knowing that you should do something good, moral, just, edifying, courageous or beneficial and it was in your power and means to do so, but you did nothing.
I can think of several situations where I did just that. Maybe you can too. One situation that comes to mind was when I was at the supermarket checkout and a man started to yell and swear at his wife. Then he started to push her. There were lots of people around, and we all did nothing. It was quite a scene - a grown man pushing his wife, using every foul word you can think of and some you may not, people standing by frozen, men, women and children, listening, heads down, everyone afraid to act. I made excuses, “It’s none of my business. It’s not my place. Someone else will do something. If I do this it might make things worse. I might get in a fight, and so on.” It was easier, or should I say more safe, to stand back and not get involved. Edmond Burke said, ‘All that is necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing’. Had the forces of evil won? All I know is that I did nothing. It’s only now, years later, when the scene so easily comes to mind that I feel the weight of my cowardice. I’ll never know what would have happened if I’d intervened. I do know that in that moment I knew I should have done something and I did nothing.
Maybe you can think of your own story where you did nothing. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up over these past mistakes or missed opportunities. We should repent, forgive ourselves and learn from these situations. We’re living in interesting times, with wars and rumours of war, earthquakes and famine. I’m inclined to think that in the days ahead it will be our sins of omission that most grieve the heart of God. Will we be people who watch and do nothing? Will we speak out and battle against injustice or betray others through our silence? Will we say what needs to be said, even if it’s costly? Will we act? Will we follow the heart of God, even if it costs us everything?
Prayer: Father God, forgive me for the times when I knew the good I ought to have done and did nothing. Grant me the strength, wisdom and courage, not only to know Your will, but to do it. Help me to know Your heart, and when the day comes, not to watch and do nothing. I pray this in Jesus’ name for His glory and Yours, Amen.
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