Luke 6:9 Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you: Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do what is good or to do what is evil, to save life or to destroy it?”
There was a naked man in the street. He appeared in his late sixties and raving mad weaving around vehicles at the intersection of Rangeline Rd and Zora St. in Joplin. It was a weekend night and the traffic was heavy on this main road. I distinctly remember the mental struggle to acknowledge the situation as real. He would approach vehicles and bang on them and at one point I watched him reach in the window of one car and grab a woman’s hair. She screamed as she accelerated to escape his grip. There were two primary thoughts I can recall: 1) Someone is going to get seriously hurt and 2) no one is doing anything.
I pulled my van over and got out.
My wife wasn’t with me. I remember telling the kids to stay in their seats, but as I approached this lunatic I remember looking back and seeing their shocked faces glued to the van window, my youngest daughter screaming, “No Pa! Don’t go!”
It must have been frightening for them to watch me engage this naked man in the middle of the intersection until the police arrived.
The pressing question here is “Whose responsibility was it?” There were many cars that passed right by that dangerous situation whose drivers answered that question, “Not mine.”
In my opinion, the picture above wins the “It’s not my job” award. To a great extent, we box our responsibilities and anything outside that box is to avoid. The driver of that paint truck may have had no specific responsibility to move a branch from the side of the road, but consider the havoc that might result from his action of doing nothing?
Doing nothing may seem benign but it’s destructive when something needs to be done.
Consider the options Jesus had on that Sabbath. Verse 7 says, “The scribes and Pharisees were watching Him closely, to see if He would heal on the Sabbath, so that they could find a charge against Him.”
His choice was simple; to heal or do nothing.
But listen closely to what Jesus says about doing something or doing nothing: “I ask you: Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do what is good or to do what is evil, to save life or to destroy it?”
Jesus determined that it was good and right to heal this man and therefore to do nothing was to “do what is evil” and to “destroy life.”
James 4:17 makes even more clear this truth: “So it is a sin for the person who knows to do what is good and doesn’t do it.”
It is true that you owe no man anything but love. Yet love may demand you do everything you can. It could mean the difference between saving life or destroying it.