The world we live in today is a mess. To the Christian, it’s not a surprise because we know that the world is continually devolving until the day The Father decides to end it all. According to the Bible, certain things must happen before this ending comes, but it’s quickly moving in that direction. Each generation seems to move a little further from the Word of God. This movement from the Word happens with our preachers, teachers, deacons, and general parishioners. So many today do not look to the Bible for direction and correction but instead, look for permission. We do not want to conform our lives to the Word; we want the Word to conform to our desires. We can abide by any personal responsibility for our actions by doing so. We can allow anything, do anything, listen to anything, go anywhere, say anything, and watch anything we want without answering to anyone and without fear of the Lord. As a result, the world is the way it is. However, a day of reckoning is coming for each of us.
For the Christian, the judgment seat of Christ is where we will give an account of ourselves. This should be the most frightening thing a Christian can ponder. We will one day stand before the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ himself and answer for our lives. We are not saved by our works, but we will be judged by our works. Each Christian is responsible for living a life conformed to the Word of God. We each have duties and responsibilities that we will account for on that fateful day.
Part of growing up is taking responsibility for oneself. We start as infants with no personal responsibility whatsoever—everything that we need to be done is done for us. As we progress through the various stages of childhood, we take on more and more responsibility. We learn to tie our shoes, clean our rooms, and turn in our homework. We learn that responsibility has its rewards—and irresponsibility has other, less-than-desirable effects. In many ways, the difference between a child and an adult is their willingness to take personal responsibility for their actions. As Paul says, “When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me” (1 Corinthians 13:11).
The Bible teaches the concept of personal responsibility: “The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them” (Ezekiel 18:20). Personal responsibility is closely related to the law of sowing and reaping (Galatians 6:7–8). “Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds. Woe to the wicked! Disaster is upon them! They will be paid back for what their hands have done” (Isaiah 3:10–11).
In the Old Testament, the law emphasized the responsibility of individuals to respond in morally appropriate ways to God’s revealed truth. God clearly defined right and wrong, and His people were expected to do what was right. This responsibility has been the case ever since the Garden of Eden when Adam was given a specific command and expected to obey it. Later, Adam’s son Cain was warned by God that he would be held personally responsible for his actions (Genesis 4:7).
Achan was held responsible for his sin at Jericho (Joshua 7:14–15). Jonah was held responsible for his choice to run from the Lord (Jonah 1:7–8). The Levites were held responsible for the care of the tabernacle (Numbers 18:5). The deacons of the early church took personal responsibility for meeting some practical needs of the church (Acts 6:3). Paul was responsible for blazing a gospel trail to the Gentiles (Ephesians 3:2).
The Bible expects us to take personal responsibility in all areas of life. Able-bodied people should work for their food. “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Men are to take responsibility for providing for their households (1 Timothy 5:8).
At times, people try to avoid personal responsibility, usually through blame-shifting. Adam tried to blame Eve for his sin (Genesis 3:12). Cain tried to dodge responsibility (Genesis 4:9). Pilate attempted to absolve his guilt in the matter of the crucifixion of Christ: “ ‘I am innocent of this
man’s blood,’ he said. ‘It is your responsibility!’ ” (Matthew 27:24). Ultimately, attempts to pass the buck are futile. “You may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).
Each one of us has the personal responsibility to “repent and believe the good news” (Mark 1:15) and then to glorify the Lord with good works (Ephesians 2:10). “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:12). Those who choose to reject the truth of God “are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). We cannot evade our personal responsibility to exercise faith in Christ.
So, Christian, how are you doing on this journey? Due to my laziness and sorriness, I must admit that I fall short most of the time. My only hope is that the Lord knows my heart and my intentions and will forgive me for my shortcomings. How about you?