When Good Men Do Nothing
by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
I. Edmund Burke once said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
A. In the endless battle between good and evil, it is seldom the numbers that determine the outcome of each skirmish.
B. Many times, the side for the right has beaten overwhelming odds
C. More often evil wins simply because the good men are not willing to stand up and fight for what they know is right.
II. When Good Men do Nothing, They Get Nothing Good Done
A. To be good, one must do good
1. Luke 6:35 - Do good, expecting nothing in return
2. Eph 2:10 - We were created to do good works
3. Tit 2:14 - Christ gave himself to gain a people zealous of good works
B. The parable of the one talent man
1. He took what the Lord gave and hid it - Matt 25:18
2. He was condemned for returning only what his Lord gave - Matt 25:25
3. He did not do any outright evil. He did not steal the money. Neither did he do anything good with the money. He did nothing. - Matt 25:26
C. The church at Sardis seemed to be alive, but it was dead - Rev 3:1
D. Too many churches and Christians do nothing.
1. They are standing idly by. They are mere spectators, sitting on the sidelines instead of actively participating in the good work.
2. If good wins, they join in the celebration, though they did nothing to produce the victory.
3. If evil wins, they complain long and loud, though their own apathy produced the undesirable result.
E. Learn from the parable of the fig tree - Matt 21:19
1. What will the great Judge do with those who claim to be good and yet do nothing?
2. Heed the warning of John, the baptizer - Matt 3:10
3. Jesus too, gives the same warning - John 15:1-2
III. When Good Men do Nothing, Evil Triumphs.
A. Evilness, sin, and sinful men must be opposed. God commands that the good are not to just avoid evil, but to actively oppose it.
1. Eph 5:11 - Have no fellowship, but reprove them.
2. Those who do nothing about sin and evil help sin and evil to prevail.
3. Ezek 3:18 - When one is silent before the evil, we become a partaker with them
B. Elijah challenged the people to decide between God and the evil of Ahab and Jezebeel, yet the people remained silent - I Kings 18:21
C. In the parable of the good Samaritan, wicked men had robbed and beaten a man, leaving him half dead. The men who did this were very evil. The priest and the Levite, who passed on the other side (Luke 10:31-32) were willing to let evil triumph by not doing anything. Only the Samaritan stood up for what was right.
D. In the fight against evil there is no middle ground, no gray area, no neutrality - Matt 12:30.
IV. When Good Men do Nothing, They are no Longer Good
A. Too many have the mistaken notion that good is merely the absence of doing wrong.
1. A person is not good merely because he has done no evil.
2. A good person is one is actively working for what is good - I Pet 3:11
3. When we do not do good, we are sinning - James 4:17
B. Reuben, the eldest of the sons of Israel, knew his brothers’ plot to murder Joseph was wrong.
1. He started an attempt to rescue Joseph, but while he delayed, his brothers sold Joseph into slavery.
2. When Reuben found out what had happened, he realized that his inaction helped to bring. Instead of correcting his error, he covered his guilt by agreeing with his brothers to lie about Joseph’s disappearance - Gen 37:29-33
3. Reuben had good intentions. He was not present when Joseph was sold into slavery, but his inaction and absence made him just as guilty. His guilt haunted him the rest of his life - Gen 42:21-22
C. Obadiah condemned the Edomites for doing nothing when evil befell their relatives, the Jews - Obad 11
D. There are Christians today who fail to face the real foe of error and fight the enemy. Instead, they turn inwardly upon their own brethren and brutally attack out of bitterness and hatred.
1. Well did Paul warn about these spiritual cannibals - Gal 5:15
2. Some in their envy of others will provoke Christians, taunting them to misstep so they may feel justified - Gal 5:26
3. While the actions of these Christians are shameful, what about those who stand by and do nothing? If you stand aside and do nothing while your brothers are being slandered, are you any better?
V. Those who fail to do are sowing dangerous seeds - Gal 6:7
A. Do not allow evil to triumph by your inaction
B. Stand up and be counted. Speak up against evil, rebuke evil men and their wicked ways.