I was reading my Next Steps scriptures the other day and came across a new (for me) revelation. Jesus teaches that to do nothing in certain situations is evil and destructive.
Luke 6:9 Then Jesus said to his critics, “I have a question for you. Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” (NLT)
Jesus was dealing with the incessant insistence by the Pharisees that nothing be done on the Sabbath. They were more interested in religion and rules and regulations that in doing God’s work. In this instance, they would rather Jesus not help a hurting individual than break their man-made rules about the Holy Day.
It appears to me that Jesus is saying that we must choose: “good deeds or evil”; “save a life or destroy it”. There is no middle ground. Theoretically speaking, God wants us to cast aside our adherence to religion if the end result of our religion is damaging to people. We must follow the spirit of the law rather than the letter of the law. Practically speaking, there are no more excuses for apathy and inaction. If you see someone who is hurting and you can help them, you must do so. Doing nothing is wrong.
There are other ways of saying the same thing:
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” Bishop Desmond Tutu
“If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” James 4:17 (NIV)
“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” Theodore Roosevelt
“Work and struggle and never accept an evil that you can change.” Andre Gide
To my fellow Jesus-followers: if you see something wrong that you can correct, yet you choose to remain uninvolved, your choice to do nothing is sinful. If you can help someone, if you can make a difference or in any way make the world a better place in which to live, please do so. Jesus will be very happy with you.