Personal Responsibility (2)

From all that was mentioned in the last message, it is clear: Personal responsibility has its place. The problem is few give it the right place. I am its owner. God gives me the individual decision. It is not for others to decide for me. It is my lot in life. Therefore, I answer for myself in the judgment (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Realizing I have to be responsible, where do I begin to understand what this means spiritually? Spiritually is where a person must start to know the assignment comes from God. It is not necessarily a societal government. Fact is, some agencies accommodate those who are not willing to be responsible for anything. Therefore, it is with God who created me where it is understood what I should be doing in this world.

If I know I am to answer for myself in the judgment by the things I have done, what things should I be doing? 1 Timothy 4:16 says, “Take heed unto thyself...2 Corinthians 13:5 commands us to “Examine yourselves...1 Timothy 5:22 exhorts us to “keep thyself pure...James 4:10 continues to charge us to “Humble yourselves.” Then, Romans 6:16 says, “ whom ye yield yourselves as servants unto obedience, his servants ye are whom ye obey...” The pages of the epistles are replete with personal exhortations toward demonstrating who God made us to be.

A great chapter on what personal responsibility entails is Matthew 25. In vv. 1-13, a parable is told by Jesus about ten virgins. Verses 14-30 is another parable about three men and the use of their management skills. Verses 31-46 is a scene of the judgment. Each section has some valuable lessons: (1) Everyone is given something to do. No one is left; (2) Those who meet responsibility are contrasted with those who do not; (3) People are trusted and depended upon to do something; (4) The rewards or punishments are personal, not collective; (5) Everyone is commonly and equally responsible to God.

An eye-opening conclusion to one of the parables is of interest. The consequences of forsaking personal responsibility are illustrated in v. 26: “But his lord answered and said unto him, ‘Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I did not scatter.” Failing to meet responsibility is labeled as “wicked” and “slothful.” “Slothful” we might understand, because it is associated with laziness, but “wicked” is a hard term to use for not fulfilling responsibility. You might associate such a word with someone who is hateful, divorced, causing church division, or teaching false doctrine.. We must comprehend laziness as what keeps one from doing what is his/her duty to do. It is sinful or “wicked” to omit what God desires of us as much as it is “wicked” to commit an act of transgression. The conclusion a person will realize in Matthew 25 is personal responsibility is not a small thing.

We need to learn some lessons from those who realized personal responsibility. Consider Acts 9:26-27: “And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus.” Barnabas was not given this assignment. No one chose him to be the “spokesman” for Paul or the church. He acts in accordance with what fellowship is. It is based upon one’s faith and obedience to God. He did not wait for a church meeting before he was motivated to do something. He welcomed his brother in Christ and wanted to introduce this new convert to other brethren.

In Acts 9:36-37, Dorcas used a talent she had to do the good work of making garments for the sisters in the church. There was a need. She saw it. No one told her she could or could not do this. It was not assigned to anyone to do. There was not a group meeting establishing her as the seamstress of the congregation. She did not wait on someone else to do it first (like the preacher’s or deacon’s wife). She saw her responsibility to do good works. The value of what she did is witnessed at her death in v. 39: “...all the widows stood by him (Peter) weeping, and showing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.”

Acts 18:24-26 is another example. Aquila and Priscilla, husband and wife (good example for our marriages), saw the need to further teach and exhort a brother in Christ. They were not assigned to be Apollos’ mentor by the elders. They did not wait for Paul to get there before they started. They did not ask anyone else, “Have you heard what Apollos is preaching?” Neither did they say, “Someone needs to sit down and talk to Apollos about his preaching!” They were motivated to act themselves. What a great work for a husband and wife to have a personal Bible study with Apollos!

These examples can be YOU doing similar things. Each Christian is “His workmanship” (Ephesians 2:10). The next time you think, “Someone ought to...”, remember, you are that someone. Who says greeting visitors is only an assignment duty? Who says hospitality is only for the elders? Who says a Bible teacher is the only one qualified to lead a soul to Christ? Who says this is for the young people, and that is for the older people? Who says visiting is only done by the preacher, and cards are only written by the women? YOU assess the situation. YOU be motivated. The mark of a true spiritually responsible person is one who will be busy working for Jesus. I pray that is YOU!

“If what needs to be done becomes everyone’s job, it becomes no one’s job.”