I tumblogged (is that a word?) James 4:17 yesterday with the tagline, “Ouch!”
Anyone here never not do the right thing? Yes, that’s an intentional double negative. I’m not asking if anyone’s never done anything wrong, but whether you’ve ever not done something that was right. Is it wrong by default for me to not do something that’s right? Or is there some point total, where as long as I don’t do anything wrong, the “right” things I do just add points and I might not get a gold medal like the overachievers who do all the right things but at least I could get bronze? Yeah, if you want conviction from a kid’s movie, the video previewed at the right slammed me with that verse from James last night.
I’m finding the Bible is pretty clear on the idea that failing to take action is sin when you know that action is right. John 9:41 says that if we know Christ, we have no excuse for skipping out on “right” actions, even if we do no “wrong” actions. And II Peter 2:21 is clear that if we know Jesus is Lord, but we don’t follow His commandments, that’s worse than having been ignorant of His lordship in the first place!
It gets even harder - Matthew 5:48 (this is Jesus speaking) demands of us no less than perfection, “as [our] heavenly Father is perfect.” Yeah, we’re all done for. (Idiomatic Grammar imperfection! Fail!)
So what’s the point? First, do all the right things. And also do no wrong things. Beyond that, we all know that we are failures. We have not lived up to Christ’s example and we never will. But we are striving for that goal. We need to remain as Paul did, pressing onward (Philippians 3:13-16).
Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.
What he’s saying is that once we know Christ as Lord and Savior we are perfect in Him. But His perfection produces in us a desire - more, a motivation and discipline - to move beyond our sins and live up to perfection. So be perfect. Live in Christ to the fullest extent of your abilities, and then some.