Thursday, June 16, 2011

When Doing Nothing Is Wrong 6/15/2011

We’re back.  We had a week off for baccalaureate and another week away from the blog for a missionary.  That was a great meeting though and Marti Roman really challenged our students to be lifelong givers to missions.  So we returned tonight with one main question:  If you know someone is doing something wrong and you don’t do anything about it is that a sin?

We spent some time discussing hypothetical scenarios.  What if you’re friend is doing drugs?  What if you have a friend with an eating disorder?  What if they are abusing alcohol?  What if they are cutting themselves or are suicidal?   Do you tell someone or is it just their own business?  It is true that people are accountable for their own actions.  We can’t remove the personal responsibility of the person who is doing the action.  The question is, what is our responsibility.

Edmund Burke is credited with the quote, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

This quote wraps up the whole idea of our responsibility here.  Doing nothing in the face of evil is condoning that evil.  By our silence we are saying that we agree with what is being done.  There are several places in scripture that deal with what we do.  In the parable of the sheep and the goats the only difference is what they did and didn’t do (Mt 25:31-48).  God is clear that we will be judged for that.  In the parable of the talents it is the servant who did nothing that is condemned (Mt 25:14-28).

To stand by and do nothing in the face of someone else headed toward destruction is wrong.  So I went a little deeper.  If it is wrong for us to stay silent when someone’s physical life is in danger then how much worse is it for us to stay silent when they are in spiritual danger.  We must not stay silent when we are surrounded by lost souls in danger of spending eternity in Hell.  James 4:17 says, “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.”  Therefore, the answer to this question is Yes it is sin to stand by and watch a friend live out a destructive behavior in their life.

Now, this doesn’t mean that we are to be everyone’s personal “Holy Spirit” in order to convict them of sin.  For the situations we described above you should lovingly confront the person and tell them they need to get help.  If they are not willing to get help for themselves then you tell someone who can help.  You’ll probably lose a friendship on this one at least for a while.  But a true friend would care more about their friend than the friendship itself.  For situations where their life is not in danger you lovingly tell them the truth and let them make their own decisions from there.  In those instances you have to fall back on the perfect Sunday School answer to all questions – pray and trust the Holy Spirit.

Don’t be someone who stands by and does nothing.  That’s all it takes for evil to triumph.