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What is 'Sins of Omission'

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  • What is 'Sins of Omission'

    or who is your neighbor?

    One sin that seems to bedevil us is the 'sin of omission', we learn to avoid or refrain from evil but then we forget about doing good, or loving our neighbor. Who is our neighbor?

    When Jesus was here on earth, one day He was speaking to the people and a lawyer came up to Him and asked Him a question (Luke 10:25-37). He said, "Master, what should I do to inherit eternal life?" Now, that's the ultimate question, isn't it. That is the ultimate question for you and me and the whole world today: "What should I do to inherit eternal life?"

    "Well," Jesus said, "what's written in the law? How readest thou?"
    The answer came back, "Thou shalt love the Lord with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.; and thy neighbor as thyself."
    Jesus said, "You've given a good answer. If you do that you live." It's quite a way, isn't it. "You do that, you love and you will live."
    But the lawyer asked another question: "Who is my neighbor?"

    Now, you remember that the Jews didn't consider the heathen their neighbors. They didn't consider the Samaritans their neighbors. They didn't even consider one of their own race their neighbors. It was only their very close friends, the ones they got along with and loved were their neighbors.
    Well, Jesus answered that question by telling of an incident that probably just recently happened. He said, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead." They robbed him then they mugged him and then they left him lying in his own blood thinking that perhaps he would die. He finally came to, and saw someone coming. "A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.."

    Could be the priest was probably on his way to deliver a sermon down in the synagogue in Jericho and didnt want to be late. Maybe it was a very important sermon. Maybe he was planning to give a sermon on brotherly love...

    "So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side." The half dead man sees someone else coming by. Alright! This man is a church treasurer, a Levite, probably wealthy and lots of people who look up to him. Surely he can help him. But the Levite looks down at him and hurries off. Well, of course the church treasurer must hurry on maybe he's carrying the bag full of money. You cant be too careful late in the evening. It wouldn't be right to risk the Lord's money. Maybe the robbers are still around. So he makes sure to take a wide path around this half-naked bleeding man.

    "But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him." By now the man is nearly passed out and it looks hopeless, now. But then, lo and behold, he hears footsteps again. Could it be possible that someone else is coming? He strains his eyes and looks and sees... Oh, it's a Samaritan. Well, you know the problems between the Jews and the Samaritans, the Samaritans were hated as scum and not allowed to worship in the Jewish Temple.

    The injured man probably thought I get robbed and beaten and now this Samaratian is going to finish me off and take what little else there is. But the Samaritan slows down and comes near, and probably spoke gently. "You're hurt. Let me help you."

    "He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'

    "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"

    Is it that hard to figure out who is our neighbor in need, then the 'Sins of Omission' becomes clearer.