I know its tax time, but that’s not the kind of withholding God has been bringing to my mind lately. As I’ve read through the Kings and Chronicles this month, I’ve noticed that God is as concerned about our inaction as He is with our action.
- Eli withheld discipline from his sons and it cost him dearly.
- David failed to give justice to his daughter when she was raped.
- King Amaziah did a lot of good things, but didn’t completely get rid of idol worship.
Scripture is full of examples of people whose wrong behavior brought consequences that echoed for generations. It always helps me remember that my choices matter. They affect not only those close to me now, but ripple into the future for the grandchildren I haven’t met yet. This weighty truth encourages me to pursue wisdom and truth in my words, actions, and habits. However, I sometimes forget that while what I do matters, what I chose not to do also has an impact.
Silence can speak louder than any words spoken. It can communicate neglect and a lack of care. It can do great harm to people we love. When I hear people tell about their childhood hurts – they often refer to what wasn’t done – they weren’t told they were loved, people didn’t come to their school events, or some other important thing they needed wasn’t given. Withholding can cause deep pain. Some areas that come to mind when I think about the dangers of inaction are:
- Not expressing love with my words and actions. Children especially need constant assurance and reminders that they are loved and treasured. I’ve found that husbands and friends like to hear it often too. It nurtures deep relationships.
- Failing to extend forgiveness to people who hurt us. As I’m reading a lot about this lately doing research for a Bible study on Joseph, I find that withholding forgiveness hurts us much more that those we don’t extend it to.
- Thinking good and grateful thoughts but not expressing them. Life is so busy – I often think about how thankful I am for meals, small acts of kindness, grace given for mistakes, or prayers offered on my behalf. Yet in the crazy rush I sometimes withhold expressing my gratitude.
- Getting lazy with consistent discipline. When I don’t follow through on consequences I give, I withhold from my kids what they need to learn and grow. Its my job to train them right now, and I need to make that a priority. (The last thing I need is a house full of Veruka Salts – talk about failure to discipline!)
These are just four of many areas where I need to be on guard against withholding. I don’t want my busyness or laziness to keep me from doing things I know are important. Of course we will never get it all right. Sometimes we forget things and miss opportunities. That’s what I love about Scripture – it reminds us that even the great men and women of God made mistakes – a lot.
But we can learn from their sins of omission and be inspired to express our love, discipline our children, and not withhold justice from those who are counting on us. Proverbs 3:27 says, “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.”
So is there anything that comes to mind for you? Is there anything you have been withholding from God or others? Take a moment today to write a note, make a call, send a text, or find another way to express the love you might be withholding.