Don't Just Do Something - Sit There

Perhaps you’ve heard the expression, “Don’t just stand there! Do something!” before. Have you ever thought about the opposite of the statement? I once read a financial column that advised, “Don’t just do something! Sit there!” The advice was given in light of the huge losses and gains in ticker prices that often follow a company’s quarterly earnings report. The advisor urged readers never to buy or sell a stock on the day those numbers come out, as the information released on that day alone actually has little bearing on a stock’s future performance. On top of that, the great fluctuations of that day can often cause one to make an investing mistake. Upon reflection, I found this advice to be even more applicable as relates to matters much more important than investments.

The Proverbs writer said, “Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established” (Proverbs 4:26). There’s something to be said about carefully considering each step before you take it. I know from my experiences in hiking that a hasty step can often be the last step before a nasty fall. However, a firm, well-thought out step – even on a narrow ledge or ridge – is never as dangerous as it seems. The same is certainly true when it comes to the steps we take spiritually. Paul further advised, “See then that you walk circumspectly [while carefully looking around you - PWS], not as fools, but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15).  

Many people get sucked into making large purchases, taking a promotion or a new job, or making some other big decision without sitting down and doing something Jesus recommended: “count the cost” (Luke 14:28). The devil wants us to make hasty decisions without keeping God in our plans, as it is a sure fire way to wind up alienated from God (James 4:13-17). Before we take any action, even seemingly small ones, we should consider how it is going to affect our pursuit of what is most important: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

Haste doesn’t just make waste through our deeds. A word spoken in anger or without thought can often be the ruin of relationship. James advised, “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19). Don’t let the word swift fool you in light of the aim of this article; the swiftness James speaks of is still towards observation and therefore inaction. If we are going to be quick to do anything, James says, be quick to consider.

There are times when we simply cannot afford to wait and do nothing, such as when we need to seek God’s salvation (e.g. Acts 8:36-38), when we have the opportunity to preach God’s word (Jeremiah 20:7; 1 Corinthians 9:16), or when we are faced with temptation (e.g. 1 Timothy 6:11). For the most part though, major decisions and important actions turn out best when we undertake them slowly and take time to consider fully the consequences. Sometimes therefore we need to heed the advice, “Don’t just do something! sit there!”
-Patrick Swayne  
patrick@tftw.org

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