Sins Of Omission!
"As the Lord commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses command Joshua,
and so did Joshua; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses."
That's an incredible statement.
Moses had gone up to the top of Mount Nebo, where he met God.
Moses died on Mount Nebo, and the Lord buried his body.
Israel had lost her leader.
He was the one who had led her out of Egyptian bondage, and the mantle of Moses fell
upon Joshua, his lieutenant.
Joshua was responsible to God for the Commandments God gave to Moses.
The conquest of Canaan was before them.
Joshua carried out the instructions, which the Lord gave for the accomplishment of the task,
and settlement in the Land of Promise.
There are many details involved in the instructions of our Scripture.
For instance, "Joshua smote all the country of the hills and of the south
and of the vales and all of the springs and all of their kings.
He left nothing remaining but thoroughly destroyed all that breathed
as the Lord God of Israel commanded that he should do."
Again we read, "Joshua did unto them as the Lord bade him.
He hocked their horses and burned their chariots with fire."
Verse 5 tells us that in obedience, in faithfulness, Joshua carried out all the things
that God had commanded.
It is marvelous to come to the end of the battle or to come to the end of a life
or to be able to look back on the past and say, as Paul says,
"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness,
which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day."
Joshua did everything that God commanded and left nothing undone!
How many of us can say, "I have left nothing undone of all that God commanded from the beginning."
I don't believe that many of us could honestly say that.
Andrew Bonar, the great Christian preacher of another age, said as he came to the end of the year in his life,
"This year's omissions distressed me more than anything."
A great artist painted a picture of the Lord's Supper and presented it to Tolstoy.
He studied it for a moment and then, turning to his friend the artist, said:
"Sir, you do not love this one very much!
If you had loved him more, you would have painted him better."
Our chief concern in this message is with our disobedience and in our responsibilities unto the Lord.
We are not primarily concerned with what we proposed, or intended, or planned to do.
We are concerned with those supreme things that God commanded us to do which we have not done.
These are the things that should cause us great concern.
Sins of omission are too numerous to list.
I'm sure that in the mind and heart of each one of us is the knowledge that so much
should have been done that we have failed to do.
When we begin thinking about the things undone, they become so numerous
that they become mountainous.
It would seem that we have omitted much more than we actually did or accomplished.
We think we are busy.
We love to talk about how much we do in a day or in a week or in a month or in a year.
We talk about our schedules and how busy we are.
Most of us are busy -- too busy for our own good.
Someone has said that modern man thinks he is much busier than he actually is.
Our forefathers could miss a wagon train going west and sit down and wait for a week
for another one without even thinking about it.
Today, if we miss a traffic light, we develop a stomach ulcer.
Someone has said: "The hurry-ier I get, the behinder I am."
Isn't that true with most of us?
We are entirely too busy with the things that we do and that we plan to do.
On the other hand, if all of the multitude of things that we fail to do
should appear out of the past to us, we would be surprised and overwhelmed at their number.
In 1 Kings 20 there is a statement along this line in the Old Testament parable of the lost prisoner.
These were the circumstances: Benhadad, the king of Syria, made war against Ahab,
the King of Israel, and was defeated; but Ahab failed to do what God told him to do
about destroying the Syrians -- Benhadad in particular -- and let them go.
One day one of the prophets of God disguised himself and sat on the roadside when Ahab came by.
He told him a parable about a guard who had entrusted to him, a prisoner.
The point of the story was this.
The prophet said to Ahab,
"As thy servant was busy here and there, behold he was gone."
This is true about so many things in our lives.
As thy servant became so involved, so busy here and there, the prisoners of opportunity had vanished.
Things undone become mountainous high in the period of youth.
Actually, the whole of life is one golden prisoner committed into our hands
for a day and for the opportunities the day brings.
Young people must realize that in this time of life there must be some things decided,
some goal lines crossed, some ideals established, and some attainments realized.
There must be preparation of mind, body, and soul, else the prisoner of opportunity flee,
and we never will be able to recapture him.
When a farmer fails to get out in March and April with his plow and break the ground
and sow the seed and cultivate the plants, he will starve when December comes.
When the pools of life are stirred by the angel of God, we must step down into the water
because it is then or never, as far as we are concerned.
The same is true of the freshness of youth.
The poet has expressed it in these words:
"Break, break, break at the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of the day that is dead
Will never come back to me."
That's why Solomon said in Ecclesiastes:
"Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee
in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes:
but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment."
"While thy servant was busy here and there, behold he was gone."
Suddenly, youth is gone, and many never make life what it ought to be.
Look at our families.
We are negligent with our loved ones until change or death removes them from our grasp.
The disciples, who were with the Master in the garden of Gethsemane, were sound asleep
in the great hour of opportunity.
Jesus came and said:
"What, could ye not watch with me just one hour?"
One hour of service, one hour of opportunity, and the prisoner was gone.
There were no more chances and no more opportunities for them.
This is true in our families.
We are often sound asleep.
We neglect, we omit doing those things that mean so much to those we love.
If you have an impulse in your heart to say something, to do something, to be something -- in the name of Jesus -- say it, do it -- before the opportunity is gone and you look back
with sorrow saying, "Oh, if only I had -- when the opportunity was mine!"
"I did not know how short your day would be!
I had you safe, and words could wait awhile --
E'en when your eyes begged tenderness of me,
Behind their smile.
And now for you, so dark, so long, is night!
I speak, but on mine knees, unheard, alone --
What words were these to make a short day bright --
If I had known!
Ah, love -- if I had known!"
How often do we look back and say, "Oh, did I do everything I should have done,
did I say everything I should have said when the opportunities were there?"
Squire wrote a poem in which he pictured a man who always had good intentions
where his loved ones were concerned.
Every day he decided he was going to write to this loved one, but he failed to do it.
"Tomorrow I will do it."
But his tomorrow had a way of stretching out into eternities, always intending,
but so absorbed in duties that he neglected it.
One day a letter came.
She was dead.
He clutched the letter, then looked again at the words in his hands, and in a flood of remorse cried:
"It shall not be today. It shall not! It is still yesterday.
There is still time -- there must be time!"
"The sun moves. Our outward course is set.
There will be time for nothing but regret.
And the memory of things undone!"
J.P. Marquand, in his book entitled, So Little Time, tells of a playwright
who has good intentions about writing a masterpiece and about being a real father and husband.
The day comes when his oldest son puts on a uniform and goes off to war.
The man realizes that life is too brief for his boy, and attempts to repair the damage
and now tries to do some things that he had neglected to do all of the past years
while he was at home with his boy.
Over and over again, there is that tragic refrain, which is the title of the book,
"So little time, so little time!"
In most of our families there are so many things that are left undone.
Out in the community where we meet people daily, think of the words that could have been spoken,
think of the handshakes that could have meant encouragement and comfort to someone.
Think of the appreciation you could have shown to someone else,
but all these things have been left undone.
The real ghosts of our lives are the unwritten letters, the unspoken words,
the unmade visits, the little things that we let slip by us day in and day out.
Then think of the work of God and of the church; how we fail in these!
Think of the times when we could have given more, when we could have talked,
and when we could have witnessed.
Here is one of the great contrasts between the world of nature and human life.
Have you ever stopped to think that in nature practically everything fulfills its purpose?
God set it here for a purpose, and it pursues its purpose.
But when you look at human life, we see a difference.
Too often, we are paralyzed with inertia, laziness, procrastination, fear, balking at the task and the job.
These things grow to be mountainous -- the things we leave undone that should have been done.
James 4:17: "Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin."
Sins of omission are important.
The things that we leave undone so often are the most important matters in life.
You remember the story about the country boy who had never seen a circus?
One day the circus came to his town.
His father gave him a silver dollar and sent him to the circus.
When the boy arrived, the parade was in progress, coming right down Main Street.
He joined the crowd and watched the horses come by.
He watched the elephants, and was fascinated by the lions and tigers in their cages.
He watched the clowns going through their routines,
and one of them came close to him with his hand outstretched.
The boy said, "This is it."
He pulled the silver dollar out of his pocket and dropped it into the hand of the clown,
and went back home.
Weeks later, he learned that he had missed the circus, and the only thing that he had seen
was the parade -- the preliminaries.
All too often in life that is exactly what we do.
Emerson spoke of the "science of omitting."
In a day when there are conflicting interests clamoring for our obedience,
and countless things demanding our love and loyalty, we must learn how to omit.
God have mercy upon us if we do not learn this valuable lesson.
When it comes to morality, life becomes successful, only as we learn to exclude.
Schiller says, "The artist may be known rather by what he omits."
That could be said about any profession.