Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.James 4:17 (NLT)
My memory and focus are not what it used to be. OK, I don’t think I ever had that great of a memory. For example, my mom would tell me to do a chore, and I would “forget” that she had even mentioned it. My memory problems started early in life. Maybe you can relate?
These days, it’s more about retaining things in my short-term memory that is the issue. For example, I can go to a store to buy five things. It’s only five things, so I don’t write a list. When I return, almost every time, I forgot at least one of the things. In addition, I usually come back with stuff that I didn’t set out to buy in the first place! Yup. My memory ain’t so great some days.
Reminders are important for people like me. They help make sure I remember the important things I need to do. I have appointments logged into the calendar on my phone, so it beeps to remind me where I need to be and when. I have a to-do list for ministry and home projects. I have lists on a giant whiteboard in my office about upcoming programs, administrative tasks, and other priorities. Reminders keep me sane and on task.
James, the guy who wrote our verse today, also was big into reminders – hence the reason he starts our verse today with the word, “Remember.” However, his reminder isn’t about making sure to get milk from the grocery store or that meeting at three o’clock. Instead, his reminder is calling us back to Christian living. This reminder hurts. “It is a sin if you know what you ought to do and then not do it.” Ouch! It’s hard enough remembering 10 commandments, now anything that God has asked me to do becomes a test of our relationship.
In a word, this is called obedience. We generally don’t like this word, because it sometimes means we have to do things we don’t like to do. But obedience is important in building relationships. It develops trust. And, in the case of God, keeps us on the right path.
Because God is always correct, and can see the future, He knows exactly what we must do to live a successful Christian life. Additionally, He is the only One who knows how to lead us into eternity. So, every direction He gives us is for our benefit and out of extreme love for us. When we don’t follow His lead, it damages our relationship with Him. It’s a sin. Today, recommit to following God’s lead in all things. He will never lead you wrong.