Sins of Omission


Is it worse to do the wrong thing or not to do the right thing? While I may say they are both wrong, I functionally believe it is worse to commit than to omit.

I am realizing how much self-righteousness and self-preservation are bound up in my bent toward sins of omission. I also am realizing how ugly that is and how my reluctance to sin and repent boldly also affects my ability to grow in Christlikeness.

The Children’s Catechism defines sin as “any thought, word, or deed that breaks God’s law by omission or commission.” Sins of omission are “not being or doing what God requires.” Sins of commission are “doing what God forbids.”

My husband and I are wired very differently and therefore tend to sin differently. Because of his profession, he speaks 10 times more words than I do on any given day, and the majority of those are spoken or written in public. His actions are more public, too. It’s easy for me to tell him that he should have said something differently or handled a situation better. But it’s also conveniently easy for my lack of love and generosity to go unnoticed, or at least not be called out by others. Whereas the “committer” is constantly being called out on his sins, the “omitter” is far harder to pin down.

Recently Doug said, “Who is calling you out on your sins?” And he was right. His sins are generally more external and overt, so he gets told all the time how he has done something he shouldn’t. My sins are generally more internal and covert, so I am less often called to repent. But my sins are no less real.

I actually do know that I sin, but I sometimes don’t know how to articulate my sins specifically in order to confess them. They are so subtle, and I have grown lazy in nailing them down. I really do know that I need a savior, but my freedom is stunted because my confession is vague or nonexistent.

I’m not talking about thinking about doing something and then not following through on it, though I do that plenty. I am talking about the state of my heart where it doesn’t even occur to me to do something generous. Doug sins boldly, but he also confesses openly and has a very generous heart.

I need to learn how to better articulate my confessions to God and to others. I need to worry less about doing the wrong thing and about having people know I did the wrong thing. I need to be quicker to repent.

I appreciate more now the sentiment behind Martin Luther’s encouragement to, “Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly.”

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Julie Serven craves shalom for people and places. She enjoys editing, helping people with literacy skills, hearing people’s stories, exploring all things OKC, yoga, NPR, and spending time with her ultracool family.