The criticism cut deeply and left me feeling hurt. It was not the first time I had heard this type of accusation, but that did not make it less painful. This person stated that they thought I was unkind, mean and generally not a good person.
What had I done? What was so evil as to rouse this anger against me? The answer, “Nothing.” I had done nothing.
This person expected me to be present with them in their struggle. They wanted me to run and help. They wanted to see my concern in physical action.
The truth is that I did care. I did want to help. I prayed for the situation. I told other people to pray and suggested how some of them might be able to help. My heart was in the right place, but my body did not follow in the way they desired.
One thing I have learned from encounters like these is that the absence of action can speak as loud as negative actions. When you do not visibly respond to needs and issues people will assume that you are calloused, uncaring and mean. People will, correctly or incorrectly, make judgments about your lack of appropriate behavior.
The New Testament writer James goes so far as to say, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. (James 4:17 – NIV 2011)”
As a believer, I must continually evaluate what I am doing and what I am not doing. It is one thing to be busy and not be able to act; it is another to know how to respond and turn away. Your absence of action says something about what you believe.
Make today a day in which you do the right thing. Make this week a week in which people will see you doing the good you know you ought to do.