Luke 6:6-11. On another sabbath, he entered the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him to see whether he would cure on the Sabbath so that they might find an accusation against him. Even though he knew what they were thinking, he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” He got up and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to destroy it?” After looking around at all of them, he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.
When it’s easier to do nothing, do something.
Two minutes later, it hit me like a punch to the stomach. I had just met with a woman who told me her faith story and how Jesus had changed her. But she also shared other things—like working three jobs to support her family, the appointments to which she had to take her son, and eating rice and beans last summer because utilities had increased. At the end of our conversation, I prayed with her. And that’s when the Holy Spirit messed up my prayer, tugging on my heart to give this mom a gift card in my wallet. I argued with the Spirit the whole time my mouth was moving to other words, excuses about what I “needed” to buy with that gift card, and thinking about what I would say and how I didn’t want to come across. But at the “Amen,” the only thing I gave the woman was a hug before she left. Two minutes later, I felt like a total jerk for not doing anything when clearly, I was called to do something.
Theodore Roosevelt once said: “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.” After weeks, possibly months, of passing him by upon entering the synagogue, the only time the Pharisees stopped for the man with the withered hand was when they had an opportunity to get Jesus in trouble for healing him— “work” on the Sabbath. However, Jesus, by his question, illuminated their self-centered error: in their efforts to affirm and maintain their own 'righteousness' they were actually exhibiting the opposite of true godliness: doing evil by refusing to do good, destroying life by refusing to save it. Continuing to walk on by, doing nothing when one has the capacity to do something, is worse than mere neglect; it misses God’s point and God’s heart.
“Nothing” will always be far more convenient to do than “something.” If we think about it long enough, you and I can come to justify and convince ourselves of just about anything. We can come up with plenty of excuses and even religious-sounding reasons to do nothing—then getting mad at Jesus, like the Pharisees, for doing something different. But those who have truly encountered Jesus do not look to what’s “easy,” “simple,” “accepted,” “reverent,” or “normal” to determine the course—or lack thereof—that we take. Being obedient to Jesus often means doing the hard thing because easy indifference gets in the way of the work God wants to do.
On Today's Road: Where is God calling you to do something, when in the past you have done nothing?