If you aware of someone in need and are able to help them, are you morally obligated to help them? Are you subject to punishment if you fail to help them?
- In the parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus introduced a commandment to love your neighbor. The example he gave was giving assitance to a stanger in need who he defined as our neighbor.
- James 4:17Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.
- Does this mean failure to render aid is a punishable offense?
There are challenges to translating these ideas into a code of ethics. One modern outcome is the conclusion that we are constantly in sin with little hope of any righteousness. We simple bow to the forgiveness that comes through faith in the cross. There is no hope of living a righteous life even with the help of the Holy Spirit. Although this seems spiritual and theological tidy, it is not satisfying and does not seem to me to be consistent with the vision of following Christ in the Bible, the motivations of the apostle Paul, and other descriptions of life in Christ.
I suggest an alternative. We need more emphasis on the sins of commission and to lighten up on the sins of ommission. There is just not enough time in my day otherwise. The life of folowing Christ can be a simple one.