The Difference Between Do’s and Don’ts

Jamie had always considered herself a “good Christian girl.” She doesn’t drink, party, or have premarital sex. She makes decent grades, plays soccer, and goes to church on Sunday mornings and youth group on Wednesday nights.

One night, Jamie’s youth pastor had all the students do a small exercise. He gave them all a sheet of paper and told them to divide it into two columns. On the left side, he told them to write down what they “do” for God to expand His kingdom or show His love. Jamie sat and thought and wrote the following:

  1. Church
  2. Youth group
  3. Give money to Salvation Army at Christmas?

Next, Jamie’s youth pastor instructed the group to write down what they “don’t” do in the name of God on the right side of their paper. Jamie didn’t have to think as long this time. She wrote the following:

  1. I don’t drink.
  2. I don’t smoke.
  3. I don’t have sex.
  4. I don’t party.
  5. I don’t gossip.
  6. I don’t eat too much.
  7. I don’t talk back to my parents (usually).
  8. I don’t do things without permission.

Next, he had them look at their lists to see which one was longer. Jamie was pretty proud of her second list until her youth pastor asked this question:

“Are you defined by what you DO for God or what you DON’T do?”

Jamie’s heart sank. She knew she’d been building her sense of value and identity as a Christian on a list of don’ts while she didn’t do much to actually build the kingdom of God.

Faith Requires Action

You may be like Jamie. You pride yourself in the things you don’t participate in. In the depths of your heart you feel as though you’re an “awesome Christian” because of what you’re not doing. You are admired by your parents, your friends’ parents, and adults in general. Some adults have expressed, “I wish my daughter was more like you.”

If this is you, let me be the first to say that I am so proud of the fact you are staying away from a life of sin. This is no easy task, and the fact that you are committed to it shows obedience to God and His Word. Keep up the good work!

However, consider these verses from James 2:20–22:

Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works

This section discusses the concept that “faith apart from works is useless” and that Abraham’s faith and his actions were working together. True faith requires action. We are to be working to advance the kingdom of God, not simply resting in the accolades we receive for not actively engaging in a life of sin.

Your List of Do’s

I challenge you to make a list like Jamie’s. Which side would have more, the do’s column or the don’ts column? As a teenager, mine would have weighed heavily in the “don’t do” column. I thought I was doing what I should, and it never occurred to me that I could be using my spare time to do something more for God.

Do people know you more by what you do for God or what you don’t?

What actions do you do that demonstrate your faith to others? Living a life by not participating in sin is definitely a great start, but do you have the “works” to go with your faith? Do people know you more by what you do for God or what you don’t?

Let us know your thoughts below!

About Author

Sarah Garrett is a passionate educator and founder of the Transformed4More Ministries that she runs with her identical twin sister. It is her desire to reach struggling teenagers and tell them about the transformative power and love of God. Her book, "So, You Think You Are Ready to Date?" released in October 2017.

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