Picnics are usually a lot of fun, unless you realize— minutes before you leave—that you’re supposed to bring a dish to share! When this happened to me, I quickly put some meat in a pot, cranked up the heat, and left the kitchen to finish other preparations. Several minutes later, I smelled something burning. I ran to the kitchen, but of course it was too late to salvage the burnt offering.

Though I hadn’t actually done anything wrong, it was what I didn’t do that caused the problem. This principle relates to a Bible verse: “It is a sin to know what [we] ought to do and then not do it” (James 4:17).

In the Old Testament, Moses said if a person noticed his neighbor’s ox “wandering” around, he should lasso the animal and deliver it to its owner (Deuteronomy 22:1). And if the ox fell down in the road, the person who noticed should help get the beast back on its feet (Deuteronomy 22:4).

In the New Testament, Jesus told the story of a Samaritan who stopped to help a man who had been robbed and beaten. Over the centuries, the kind man came to be known as the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). What made him good in Jesus’ eyes? He didn’t sin by failing to do the right thing. Referring to the Good Samaritan’s deed, Jesus encouraged His disciples, “now go and do the same” (Luke 10:37).

Today, we might be tempted to speed around the “ox” in the street or the “beaten victim” with a honk and a cheery wave to avoid being late for soccer practice. But what would God have us do? I believe He would want us to slow down, step out of our comfy confines, and consider the needs of others. May we reflect God’s compassionate heart as He guides us today!

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Jonah 1:1–2:10