Each week in our church service we start with a prayer of forgiveness in which we ask God for His forgiveness for our sins – the things that we have done AND the things that we have left undone. For most there are probably just a few things (if any) that we have done for which we should seek forgiveness; however, for all there are probably many things that we have left undone. For many it may be passing by on the other side, instead of stopping to help (see Luke 10:25-37). Forgive me for things left undone.
We may think we are too busy to stop and help or perhaps we think it is none of our business and we don’t want to get involved when we see an injustice or witness things like bullying, domestic violence or police brutality. Some may stop to record the event on their phone, which is what we see on the nightly news. However, what is often left undone is the intercession to offer help. Being a witness is not the same as helping. Sitting on the sidelines and going “Tut, tut, that’s terrible” is not the same as jumping in to help or joining the protest march. Forgive me for things left undone.
Sitting at home and watching events unfold on the nightly news is another example. When protesters are marching and demanding change in our society, being an observer from the comfort of your home is leaving things undone. Watching a protest march on Facebook live is not the same as being there. Even “Liking” or commenting on a post to agree with the position being taken is not the same as making your own post or expressing your own feelings. Forgive me for things left undone.
The things that we don’t do aren’t all about negatives. Many are actually very positive things that we leave undone because we just don’t make the effort. Smiling at the person you pass and saying ”Good morning”, or perhaps simply opening the door for the person behind you at the store are examples. It isn’t that we don’t care, it’s usually that we just done think about it. We are so focused upon ourselves and what we see as important in the moment that we don’t notice the opportunity to show kindness to others. Forgive me for things left undone.
One may think that they are busy trying to do the right things themselves and don’t have time to worry about others, but that is not what God wants us to do. Look at just a few of the times from the Bible that we are told what is expected of us –
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4 )
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” (Isaiah 1:17)
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:14-17 )
To which we are left to say – Forgive me for things left undone.
Perhaps the advice that we should heed is found in the Nike slogan – Just Do It!