RESPONSIBILITY

From the beginning of human history it has been the case that people have tried to shift responsibility from themselves to someone or something else. When Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden and then gave of the forbidden fruit to Adam and he ate it also they were acting out of their free ability to choose how they would live. God made them innocent. They had no sin in their past or in their memory. Yet they gave in to the temptations from the devil and sinned against God demonstrating a lack of faith in what God had promised them.

When God confronted them about their sin, Adam blamed Eve and in a way blamed God as well. He said, “The woman you gave me took of the forbidden fruit and she gave it to me.” She blamed the serpent for it all. Only the snake had no one else to blame. From that day on the Bible records case after case of people blaming others for their faults.

In the story of the two first kings to reign over the nation of Israel we can easily see the difference it makes when we blame others or accept personal responsibility. Saul was confronted by Samuel for his sin in disobeying God with regard to the Amelakites. Saul immediately declared that he had obeyed God. Samuel asked what then about the noise of the sheep. Saul said it was the people that wanted to keep them and to spare the life of the king. Only when Samuel forced it did Saul admit that he had sinned.

Later when David had sinned by committing adultery and murder and Nathan the prophet confronted him for his guilt, David declared, “I have sinned.” In Psalms 51 David went to God about his sin and declared, “Against you and you only have I sinned and committed this great iniquity.”

The road to forgiveness is blocked when we refuse to accept responsibility and blame our faults on someone else. We live in a time when it is the accepted norm to blame people for our failures. We blame parents because we didn’t do right. Often you even hear one say that the reason they don’t go to church any longer is that their parents made them go to church when they were young. Some times we blame school teachers or the teachers at church. I’ve heard folk blame uncles, coaches, grandparents and the government for their choices.

Parents especially are prone to accepting the responsibility for the failings of their grown children. When a child is small and can’t take care of themselves it is right for parents to take the responsibility for them and what they do. But when the child is thirty or forty years old and still blaming mom and dad for failures then something is wrong.

One of the lessons I learned in playing baseball for Coach Bell as a student in Junior high and high school was that each person is to take responsibility for their own actions. If you let the ball get by you, you shouted “My fault” for everyone to hear. I think that had a lot to do with our attitudes on down through the years. When I messed up or had some problem it never crossed my mind that it was my parents or the schools fault. They gave me the tools to make decisions for myself and no one but me can be held responsible for the choices I’ve made.

Years have past since those days of playing baseball back in Vernon, Alabama. Attitudes have changed along with the years. We’ve entered a time when we want to remove all responsibility from the child. If they aren’t learning in school it couldn’t be their fault. It must be their teachers. If they haven’t learned how to act and what to believe it must be the church’s fault for not teaching them all they need to know. If they aren’t successful in life and making big salaries, it must be their parents fault for not bringing them up with the right tools or favors. The result is a soft society that blames the world for everything that is wrong in life and expects the government to solve all their problems.

Joshua asked a wonderful question a long time ago when he was an old man and ready to die. The question he asked the fellow Israelites was. “Choose you this day whom you will serve. Will you serve the God that took you by the hand and led you out of the land of Egypt or will you serve the gods of this land. He gave the people their choice and left them the choice of who they would serve. They would bear the consequences of their own decisions.

One lesson every parent needs to pass on to every child is that the responsibility for their life, their success or failure and their eternal destiny rest squarely upon their own shoulders. When one stops looking for someone else to blame and takes personal responsibility they have put the past behind them.

Remember every time you point a finger at someone else you have three pointed right back at you. You are the master of your fate.

About leoninlittlerock

Preaching minister for Central church of Christ in Little Rock. Author of over 20 books including: When a Loved one Dies, Spiritual Development, Skid Marks on the Family Drive, Challenges in the church, To Know Christ and A Drink of Living Water.
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