Sins of Omission


(Adapted from an October 1997 general conference address. See Ensign, November 1997, pages 53–57.)
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another (John 13:34).

When the Savior came to earth, He taught: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Love your neighbor as yourself. When smitten, turn the other cheek. When asked for a coat, give your cloak also. Forgive, not just once but seventy times seven. This was the essence of the new gospel He taught. There was more emphasis on do than on do not.

I fear that some of our greatest sins are sins of omission. These are the thoughtful, caring deeds that we ought to do but fail to do. Then we feel guilty for not having done them.

As a small boy on the farm during the searing heat of the summer, I remember my grandmother Mary Finlinson cooking our delicious meals on a hot wood stove. When the woodbox next to the stove became empty, Grandmother silently picked it up, refilled it from the pile of cedar wood outside, and brought the heavily laden box back into the house. I was so interested in the conversation in the kitchen that I sat there and let my beloved grandmother refill the kitchen woodbox. I feel ashamed of myself and have regretted my omission all my life. I hope someday to ask for her forgiveness.

We are not only to do good, but, most importantly, to do the things of greatest worth—things of the heart that we know we should do but often don’t do.

[illustration] Illustrated by Paul Mann