My beloved husband, Bill, had an event in high school that changed the trajectory of his life. One of his best friends growing up was a boy named Tom. They grew up in a very small town and went to elementary school together, attended church together, and shared a lot of the same interests. But as they got older, they began to drift apart. As a senior in High School, Bill became friends with Tom’s younger brother who was involved in a weekly Bible Study. One day, Tom’s brother came to Bill and begged him to talk to Tom. He said that Tom was open to the gospel, and he asked Bill to go to Tom. Bill told the younger brother that he was leaving that night for a retreat and that it would have to wait till he got back.
Bill came back from the retreat, but never went over to speak with Tom. To this day, Bill doesn’t know if (in his own words) he was “scared, lazy, or just didn’t care”. Whatever, he knows that he didn’t follow through. However, Bill will tell you the category his reasons fell under: SIN. The Book of James says that when you know to do good, and you choose not to, you’ve sinned. (James 4:17). That Fall, Bill went off to college (ironically it was a Bible college) and a few weeks later Bill received a phone call to inform him that Tom had killed himself.
That one event made an indelible mark on my husband and changed the focus of his ministry. Bill came face to face with the fact that sins of omission are just as terrible as sins of commission. Neither are comforting and both are hurtful to our Savior and can cause mortal injury to those we say we love.
The lesson is, if God gives you that nudge to obey today, do it right away, without delay. You don’t want to live years under the guilt, wondering what would have happened to Tom if you had chosen differently. Just pray deeply, put one foot in front of the other and obey!