The Word: A verse was shouting in my ear

“Anyone, then, who knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” — James 4:17

Ouch.

I battle with this verse. I often get reprimanded by folks for not saying no. I stay swamped and struggle to find time to chill and catch my breath and just vacate. The problem is… this verse has been etched onto my heart by watching my mom (who is typically the second person to fuss that I work too much. My wife won first place in this). I am the person who when asked to help I try my best to see how it can be done. If I have a one hour window of freedom but am asked to help someone for “just an hour or so” I do so. I can rest when I’m dead, right (he says with sarcasm)?

Recently a couple contacted me asking for assistance. They had no friends or family willing to help them. They commented how they were told no by numerous churches all over four local counties whose numbers they could find in a google search. Our church family helped. Housing was provided for this couple for two weeks. There were most definitely concerns…there were most definitely reservations…there were most definitely grumblings…but help was still provided. This couple was awestruck and dumbfounded. “It’s amazing how rude, judgmental, harsh folks who claim Jesus can be.” I felt that. The whole time providing care and hearing conversations, I had this verse shouting in my ear: “Anyone, then, who knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”

Back in the day we weren’t as apprehensive when it came to offering assistance. Folks would pour into others knowing they’d hope and pray someone would help them if the time arose. I often heard older generations say, “what would you do if it were your mother/sister/grandfather/ etc. who needed help?” Putting the needs of others before our own is one thing… but we aren’t even willing to help out in ways that cost us little to nothing. The concept Jesus taught in Matthew 25 of “whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me” has become ignored. What if that person needing a place to stay for a couple weeks was an angel to be entertained unaware we read of in Hebrews 13:2 and our hospitality given or ignored was a test? Ouch. Would we pass…or would we fail? When that person asks for change for gas/food…buy them a burger, fill their car, keep a goody bag nearby with bottled water/nabs/vienna sausages. Don’t sin. Be the good needed.

Rev. J. Cameron Bailey is pastor of Kenbridge Christian Church. He can be reached at jamescameronbailey@gmail.com.