What We Have Left Undone.
There is the wonderful prayer of confession in the Book of Common Prayer in the Anglican Church–
“Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent, for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.”
The life of all Christians includes prayers of confession and forgiveness for our sins - the wrongs that we have done against God and our neighbors. But so many of us fail to reflect on all the things that “we have left undone.”
Whenever I read this prayer, I am reminded of the times every day that the Spirit prompts me to do something or say something, but I didn't listen. I allowed the words of the Spirit to pass through me. There was so much good I could have done...but didn't.
I always have my excuses. Whether my mind is somewhere else or I am going somewhere or doing something at the moment, or my mood is not right, or I am afraid to act, somehow, the Spirit's words for me fall on my deaf ears...or rather...I am making myself deaf by covering my ears to His words.
In all of our lives there are a million things we should and could do, but DON'T.
Things we leave unfinished, unresolved and undone. Promises we never kept. Calls we never made. Conversations we never had. Times we could have volunteered, helped out, raised our voice, or stepped forward, but again...we just didn’t. It was just too inconvenient.
How many of our friendships and relationships would still be alive if we just worked on them a little, instead of allowing them to slip and fade away. How many chances we had to turn things around, stand up for what was right, or be a part of something good, instead of walking away because we were too busy, too lazy, too apathetic or because it was just too much trouble. We didn't want to spend the time, energy or money because the focus would have been on something or someone else...other than ourselves.
That is the issue so many of us have. We are only concerned with ourselves.
We live in a world where very few people do the right thing and the results are corruption, complacency, poverty, discrimination, injustice, wars, starving people, loneliness, etc.
We look and hope that some day, someone will do something... so we don't have to.
We may not be sinning outright, but we are also not living our lives for God to the fullest. Many of us just plod through our daily grind avoiding doing bad things, but then we don't do much of anything good either. We are stagnant, lifeless and fruitless.
We opt to stay out of trouble, mind our own business, and not get too involved. We like being less involved, because that means we have less trouble. Everyday opportunities will always arise where we can contribute and make a difference, but so often we walk away from life and God's service because it just makes our earthly life easier. That is the problem...It is EASY...to do nothing.
The life of a true servant of God is not an easy one, because the one who loves God sees the pain of the world, the coldness, the suffering, the injustice, the discrimination, the fighting...and has to do something about it. The true servant of God, can't just do nothing.
As Christians, we need to stop running away and hiding. We need to stop avoiding people and situations. We need to stop thinking and living only for ourselves and be a part of life, a part of the world...a part of God.
As a follower of Jesus Christ, we need to be the exception.
God loves us and asks us to bring His love to others. We cannot solve all the world's problems, but it only takes one person to make a difference, one person who will touch another and another.
In the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats – clearly Jesus shows it isn’t just about what we do, but what we don't do that matters.
“For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
'“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’” - Matthew 25:42-45
We need to grow up and be men and women of God who see what needs to be done and do it. We must keep the promises we make. We must finish what we set out to do. We must act when someone needs help.
It is the Spirit that provokes us to speak and act. Follow the Spirit and live the way He asks us to live, with honor and service to God and to His people.
When we live by the Spirit, nothing can ever be left undone.
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