If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin for them.
James 4:17 NIV
I have just reviewed my ‘to-dos’ for the day under various headings, but should I have a section for what the Lord is telling me to do?
That raises a few further questions. The Lord seldom speaks to us with His definitive ‘Orders of the Day’. The Bible gives us a sense of what we might call the Standing Orders -- Love God, love others. As far as possible live in peace with everyone; show the world love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness and self-control; Honour Jesus and His sending of us into the world that doesn’t know Him, to encourage others to be His disciples.
But what is the Lord showing me to do that I am not doing?
And is that inaction my caution, my fear of consequences or needing a sense of confirmation and the Lord’s timing?
This verse is in the context of those who push on with their own plans without checking in to see what the Lord wants from us.
Caution and confirmation and seeking a second witness are good ways to avoid being deceived into hasty and unwise action. That’s different from knowing the good we should do, and then not doing it.
One good we know we should do is to keep Jesus in view and honour Him as our Lord and Master. That determines our attitude as well as our actions. With Jesus in focus, we won’t fall into the trap that James describes:
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”
Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.”
As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.
James 4:13-16 NIV
“Lord, what’s the good You would have me doing? And how am I doing with it? What am I not seeing as part of Your plan?”
These are questions which the Lord is already answering, and directions where the Holy Spirit is already leading. It’s a prayer that doesn’t so much influence God, as position US to hear Him with greater confidence.