“Do Something” by Cecil May Jr.
Excerpted from the July 2016 issue, Cecil May Jr’s monthly column, Finally Brethren, featured this article: “Do Something.” It’s a very timely exhortation to Christians to make a difference.
I went out for baseball in junior high. I have never been much of an athlete, but I decided to try it. I was playing one of the infield positions and a ground ball came my way. I fielded it right on the edge of the outfield. There were runners on base going to the next bases. I thought about throwing to first base. Then I thought maybe I had a better chance of getting the base runner. I could not decide; so I hesitated. As I looked back and forth holding the ball, everybody was safe on what should have been an easy out, possibly even a double play. The coach came running out toward where I was and angrily said, “Look, Cecil, do something, even if it’s wrong!”
Coach was not really saying it was all right to do the wrong thing. He was recognizing, however, that doing nothing is always wrong. Do something and at least you might be right.
A preacher organized for his congregation what he called a “quitting meeting,” urging every member of his church to renounce some sin they had been guilty of and to promise to quit it. Some promised to quit gossiping, some to quit drinking. The response was quite varied. Then one older gentleman arose and said, “I ain’t been doing nothing, and I aim to quit it!” That is something a great many people ought to quit.
There is only one way to be saved. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 ESV). There are, however, many ways to be lost, many sinful lifestyles one may choose to follow. It is, after all, a “wide gate” that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13). One of the easiest ways to be lost is just to do nothing. Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (v. 21), and “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46). The Bible also says, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17).
Christianity is too often defined by what Christians do not do, and certainly there are sinful things, even questionable things, from which Christians ought to abstain. However, we need to be better known for what we do than for what we do not do: showing compassion to the unfortunate, feeding the hungry, helping the widow and the orphan, caring for the sick and loving everyone.
Most of us recognize two categories of sin: sins of commission and sins of omission. However, when confessing sins, it seems most often that we acknowledge sins of commission. Confessing opportunities for good where we passed by on the other side without rendering needed aid seems to be rarer. How many visits to hurting, lonely church members did we fail to make? How many opportunities to say a word for Jesus to someone who needs to know Him did we miss? We recognize specific violations of morality as sin, but our greater problem may be that of not doing what we ought to do.
Significant and controversial issues come under discussion at specific times and places. What they are varies from time to time and from place to place. Preachers or teachers are labeled “sound” or “unsound,” depending on their views regarding the particular issues being argued where they are. It sometimes seems that, as long as they were “correct” on those specific issues (that is, as long as they agreed with “those who seemed to be somewhat” – Galatians 2:6 KJV), they were “sound” and well-received and used, even if they were seriously lacking in some areas of morality or ministry. It is certainly important to be correct about vital biblical issues, but neither correct worship nor correct doctrinal understandings excuse immorality or failure to do to others as we would want them to do to us.
The lawyer to whom Jesus told the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) was right about everything Jesus asked him. He correctly summed up the law as “Love God and love your neighbor.” He got the point of the parable, answering, “He that showed mercy to him,” to the question, “Who proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” In both cases Jesus emphasized to him, “Do this and you will live,” and “You go and do likewise.”
To all of us, God says, “Do something!” ❏
Cecil May Jr. is dean emeritus of the V.P. Black College of Biblical Studies at Faulkner University in Montgomery, Ala. He may be reached at email@example.com.
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