Saturday, January 03, 2015

Do the good we know - James 4:17

"Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin." (James 4:17)
Darby translates the beginning of this verse as "To him therefore who knows how to do good..." (James 4:17 Darby) It could also be translated, "To him who sees good to be done..." However, whatever the translation, the exhortation of this scripture is that, if we see or know of good that ought to be done, then we should do it. To fail to do good that is within our grasp to do is sin. Solomon further warns us, "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, 'Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,' when you have it with you." (Proverbs 3:27-28) When we have the power to do good, we should do it readily and promptly.

Sometimes we view right and wrong as a strict system of behaviors, some behaviors being right and others being wrong. However, right and wrong are more often better defined in terms of good and bad. Here, the word translated as "right" literally means "beautiful" as being excellent, pure, praiseworthy, honorable, and good. Sometimes we fret over what is the "right" thing to do when yet the "good" thing to do is instinctively known by us. One may not know the "right" way to treat his wife, but he most probably knows how to be "good" to her (whether he does so or not). To determine what is "right" we must consult some external set of rules to judge our behavior. However, to determine what is "good" we need only to look at the effect of our behaviors in the lives of others. What is "right" can be abstract, but "good" is always practical and tangible.

The "good" thing is not always the "convenient" thing. What is "good" often conflicts with our own personal goals and plans. Doing "good" sometimes conflicts with what we had planned and what we want to do. However, for those who choose "good" over "self", God has promised a blessing. "There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered. He who withholds grain, the people will curse him, but blessing will be on the head of him who sells it." (Proverbs 11:24-26) Being generous opens up to us the generosity of God and doing good invites the goodness of God into our lives. Pleasing ourselves may satisfy us in the moment, but pleasing others can reap for us eternal rewards both now and in the future. Jesus said, "make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings." (Luke 16:9)

Let us not so much worry about doing right or wrong and commit ourselves to doing good whenever the opportunity arises. In doing such we will be a blessing to others and will reap the blessing of God in our lives as well.

David Robison

No comments:

Post a Comment