Why would I want to talk about "Sins of Omission," which are quite possibly the most daunting sins of all? Because I don't think they're fair.
In the final episode of Seinfeld, the cast was found guilty of NOT helping someone in need in a court of law.
I could have been found guilty of this yesterday. I was approached by a woman who told me that she was "stuck" and needed money for a motel. I told her I had no cash on me and apologized.
But I've been reading How to be Good by Nick Hornby, and I couldn't help but think of what I COULD have done. It would have been simple to drive her to a cheap hotel and pay the $35 for the night. I could start carrying the cards of agencies who help those in similar situations... shelters, soup kitchens, etc... but I don't. I could have gone to the ATM, given her $20, and asked if she needed more.
The point is that I didn't. I did nothing at all. I had alternatives available to me, that were inconvenient, expensive, possibly dangerous, ...but they would have helped her. So... why didn't I overcome my issues and just help this person?
The same reasons why most "Sins of Omission" are committed: Fear. Selfishness. Greed. Unrighteous Judgment. But also out of self preservation. Is "Self Preservation" a sin when it results in you becoming those who passed by before the Good Samaritan came along?
Maybe. But where's the line?
At what point do you go from being "charitable" and "caring" to "crazy" and "destitute"? It's a slippery slope, this "charity" thing. When is it enough?
I like the example of helping the homeless because it's something that anyone in an urban area sees daily. And if you see it, you have guilt over it. Most of us have nothing more to offer than spare change to the average homeless person.
But this is just one example of a "Sin of Omission." There are actual checklists out there set up to make you feel like you haven't done enough... there are even hymns about it. Where does it end?
It doesn't end. There is literally no end to the number of "sins of omission" you could commit each and every day. If your eternal salvation is dependent on what sins you have and have not committed/repented of... well... I guess you had better start praying now.
Maybe that's the real reason why you're supposed to always have a prayer in your heart.