Doing Nothing Is Doing Evil


Another time He went into the synagogue, and a man with a shrivelled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched Him closely to see if He would heal Him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shrivelled hand, ‘Stand up in front of everyone.’ Then Jesus asked them, ‘Which is lawful, on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, so save life or to kill?’ But they remained silent. He looked around them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out and his had was completely healed (Mark 3: 1-5).

What if the religious leaders had understood the heart of Jesus and completely agreed with what He was doing? Would His life have made the impact that it did through conflict? Every time the Pharisees attacked Him for healing in the Sabbath or violating one of their rules, His way of mercy showed up their legalistic and callous hearts.

On this occasion He did not even touch the man. A word was enough to release the power of God in response to the man’s obedience. When he stretched out his hand at Jesus’ command, something happened in his body and in his heart. Regardless of what the Pharisees had to say, his faith connected with God and the miracle happened.

Jesus’ action had a twofold purpose. Firstly, it was an act of mercy. The man had suffered paralysis in his hand and heeded healing. Jesus did not miss an opportunity like this to step in with a miracle. Secondly, the people in the synagogue needed to know that the Sabbath was as good a day as any to do good to another. The religious leaders had made the Sabbath into a prison rather than a day of rest. Rest for them had become a straight jacked for rules, instead of a time of refreshment.

By declaring Himself to be Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus was redefining the seventh day according to God’s original purpose. As Creator, Jesus had rested on the seventh day, not because He was tired, but because His work of creation was done. He invited His people to share His rest by setting apart that day from the normal labour of the other six days. It was not so much about what they could not do. It was about what they could do – take a day off to do something different from the rest of the week.

Doing something different also included acts of mercy. They knew that, because it was legitimate to save the life of a stranded animal on the Sabbath. “So why not a suffering human being? insisted Jesus and He did something; He spoke a word!

His opponents were not interested in what was right. They were only concerned with who was right. Jesus was both angry and distressed; angry because of their stubbornness and distressed because of their example. What were the people seeing in them? Was this the kind of God they represented? One who was so rigid about His rules that He cared nothing for suffering people?

Did you notice how Jesus classified doing nothing as doing evil? Every time we miss an opportunity, either because we are insensitive or selfish, to make the life of someone else better by an act of kindness or generosity, it is as though we have done something evil. Not to do is to do.

We need to heed the lesson of this story. I need to heed the lesson of this story. God’s mercy takes precedence over all other considerations. Like David eating forbidden bread. Like hungry men picking grain on the Sabbath. Like whatever need arises when I have something else to do. Like being interrupted to help someone when I am irritated by their demand. Jesus was never interrupted because He was led by the Spirit.

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my new book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (copyright 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

Available on in paperback, e-book or kindle version or order directly from the publisher at

Check out my Blog site –


Luella Campbell

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>