James 4:17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
An important truth someone taught me many years ago is that whenever we see a ‘therefore’ in scripture, we should always seek to learn what the ‘therefore is there for.’ ‘Therefore’ normally introduces a logical conclusion that is based upon something that has just been said. Therefore, knowing that James has an important reason for what he is saying – what is the ‘therefore’ in James 4:17 – there for?’
The answer to that question is only a few verses away. If we drop back just a bit in this same passage we read –
James 4:14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” 16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
James teaches us that life is uncertain and very short. In the grand scheme of things, our life is little more than a vapor that will appear for a moment in time and then vanish away. Therefore, the opportunities we will have to do God’s will be very limited. For many of us, there may be no tomorrow, therefore what we do each and every day is very important. Therefore, to not do what is right is as important as doing what is wrong.
Not everyday will be spectacular, but everyday is special. To better appreciate this, stop and consider – ‘what if today was our last day here on earth?’ What would we do differently? Who would we talk to? What would we say? What would become so important that it would seem as sin to not do it?
As many of you know, James 4:17 is an important passage of scripture to me. It was on a Sunday night, while my pastor was preaching on it, that I suddenly realized that the only way I would ever go into the ministry would be to – go into the ministry. I had been putting off for twelve years what I knew was right, and therefore, I was sinning against the will of God. It was as if the Holy Spirit said to me that night, ‘What are you waiting for? You have known for years what I have wanted you to do. Therefore, do it.’