What are “sins of omission”?

They are sinful failures to do the right thing.

These can be the sneakiest — and easiest to explain away — sins of all.

After all…

  • I didn’t DO anything…
  • I didn’t HURT anyone on purpose…
  • It’s not MY responsibility to take care of everyone…

So, what’s the big deal with sins of omission?

Today’s devotional verse sheds some light on this.

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.”

Proverbs 3:27 ESV

Withholding good from someone, when it's in our power to do it, is a sinful act. Why? Because it's disobedient. Click To Tweet

Like James wrote, “therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).

Sins of omission are a big deal because disobeying God’s commands is a big deal.

Honestly, some of my deepest regrets aren’t sinful things I’ve done — but good things I haven’t done.

I’ve been in ministry in various capacities for years. I’ve been writing devotions for over ten years! But do you know what happened three weeks ago?

I was in the Detroit airport and had a $50 bill in my wallet. I was getting coffee before catching my next flight. And the Holy Spirit told me to give that $50 to the barista and tell her, “God wants you to know he loves you.”

I’m so upset with myself, because I clammed up. I got my coffee and walked to my gate, without giving her the money.

And it wasn’t even because I wanted to keep that $50. It was because it had gotten busy and there were loads of people around.

I’m embarrassed to share this story with you. But I also want you to warn you of this: sins of omission rob both the receiver AND the giver.

This lady had an opportunity to learn that God loves her and is thinking of her. That she’s fearfully and wonderfully made.

I hate that I screwed that up. It was sinful of me. I deeply regret it.

I just pray the Lord used someone more obedient than me to communicate that message after I failed.

Please don’t do what I did. Please, when the Holy Spirit moves you to be generous… or to communicate the truth of Jesus… or to share the Gospel… or anything else… don’t commit sins of omission by withholding the good you can do.

I’m sorry I let her down. I’m sorry I let God down. I’m sorry I let you down, as someone who teaches the Bible.

Lord, I’m sorry — please forgive me for sinning against you and this woman. Please accept my public repentance. Please move in her life despite my sins of omission.

– Jordan