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Responsibility

 

We hear a lot lately about government versus private responsibility. How responsible are we? God wants responsible sons and daughters. He doesn't want us to be irresponsible.

 

Today letís talk about responsibility.

 

Webster defines responsibility as:

1. answerable, accountable such as being responsible for a car.

2. involving accountability, obligation or duties such as having a responsible job or position.

3. answerable or accountable as being the cause, agent or source of something such as "who is responsible for this state of affairs?"

4. able to distinguish between right and wrong and to think and act rationally and hence accountable for one's behavior.

5. trustworthy, dependable, reliable as being a responsible person.

We are not mature unless we:

1. Are responsible.

2. Are able to respond (trustworthy).

3. Have the character of free moral agency.

God won't build the foundation of His kingdom on irresponsibility.

Ezek 18:4 For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son--both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die.

verse 20

The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.

Each of us is accountable for himself. We can not blame our parents or our children for our failures and weaknesses. It may be true that insanity is inherited from our children, but we can't use that as an excuse before God.

Cain seems to have been totally irresponsible:

Gen 4:9 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" "I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?"

Now it is understandable that Cain was probably scared to death at what he'd done and now having to face God with an explanation. But look at his attempt at sidestepping the issue.

Do we blame others for our shortcomings, or do we admit our own shortcomings, mistakes and sins?

A similar attitude is: Everybody else must be perfect to avoid my criticism, but because I'm working on my own imperfection, others must excuse me. Let's look at Matthew 7:

Mat 7:3-5 "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's [eye] and pay no attention to the plank in your own [eye]? {4} How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? {5} You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

I want to give you 5 ways by which people deny responsibility:

Way #1. Lying. Lying is a sign of irresponsibility.

(John 8:42-44 NKJV) Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. {43} "Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. {44} "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

What is the penalty for lying?

(Deu 19:16-21 NKJV) "If a false witness rises against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing, {17} "then both men in the controversy shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who serve in those days. {18} "And the judges shall make careful inquiry, and indeed, if the witness is a false witness, who has testified falsely against his brother, {19} "then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you. {20} "And those who remain shall hear and fear, and hereafter they shall not again commit such evil among you. {21} "Your eye shall not pity: life shall be for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

Half truths are a form of lying.

1 Sam 15:20-21 "But I did obey the LORD," Saul said. "I went on the mission the LORD assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. {21} The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal."

Let me refer you back to verse 3 to see what he was told to do:

Verse 3: Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.'"

Verse 32 describes how Samuel corrected the result of Saul's irresponsibility.

Verse 32: Then Samuel said, "Bring me Agag, the king of the Amalekites." And Agag came to him cheerfully. And Agag said, "Surely the bitterness of death is past."

33 But Samuel said, "As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women." And Samuel hewed Agag to pieces before the LORD at Gilgal.

 

Way #2. Blaming others is a sign of irresponsibility. Genesis 3 contains a good example.

Gen 3:12-13 The man said, "The woman you put here with me--she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." {13} Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."

Not only did Adam blame Eve for coercing him, but Eve blamed the serpent for her fall.

(1 Tim 2:14 NKJV) And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

One of the most heart-rending confessions of guilt came from the brothers of Joseph when the Egyptian governor, whom they did not recognize as being Joseph, demanded they bring their youngest brother to Egypt to earn the release of Simeon who was to be kept in prison until they returned. Their confessions came as they were blaming themselves for the circumstances they were in. They admitted that they were having to pay the blood-guilt for arranging what they thought was the killing of their brother Joseph.

(Gen 42:21-22 NKJV) Then they said to one another, "We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us." {22} And Reuben answered them, saying, "Did I not speak to you, saying, 'Do not sin against the boy'; and you would not listen? Therefore behold, his blood is now required of us."

They were admitting their responsibility - though many years too late to prevent the anguish of their father and their own sense of guilt.

But after a two-year delay, Judah went the extra mile in demonstrating responsibility when he put at risk himself and probably his own sons by putting himself up as surety if he did not safely return his youngest brother, Benjamin. This risked his hierarchy in leading the family as well.

(Gen 43:8-9 NKJV) Then Judah said to Israel his father, "Send the lad with me, and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, both we and you and also our little ones. {9} "I myself will be surety for him; from my hand you shall require him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever.

Way #3. Rationalization that things aren't our fault: Another sign of self-righteousness.

Gen 16:2 so she [Sarai] said to Abram, "The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her." Abram agreed to what Sarai said.

Verse 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, "You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my servant in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me."

Even Aaron fell victim to this rationalization:

Exo 32:22-24 "Do not be angry, my lord," Aaron answered. "You know how prone these people are to evil. {23} They said to me, 'Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don't know what has happened to him.' {24} So I told them, 'Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.' Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!"

It just popped out by itself.

 

Way #4. Blotting things out from our eyes is a sign of irresponsibility. Let's consider Esau's respect and value for his birthright:

Gen 25:29-34 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. {30} He said to Jacob, "Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I'm famished!" [Some say that his desire for the red stew (an Egyptian and Syrian delicacy, probably made from leguminous plants such as red lentils and beans and flavored with onions or leeks) was why he was also called Edom (meaning red or ruddy) but that label probably came from his color at birth. See verse 25.] {31} Jacob replied, "First sell me your birthright." {32} "Look, I am about to die," Esau said. "What good is the birthright to me?" {33} But Jacob said, "Swear to me first." So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. {34} Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.

Paul also refers to Esau's irresponsibility as being godless. Let's look at Heb. 12:16:

Heb 12:16 See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son.

Way #5. Running from our responsibility. Jonah was a good example of this.

Perhaps the most tragic example of irresponsibility can be found in the book of Matthew:

Mat 27:24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. "I am innocent of this man's blood," he said. "It is your responsibility!"

Now let's look at some other examples of responsibility or the lack thereof:

A trait of Abraham that pleased God was his sense of responsibility:

This is evidenced in Gen 26:3-5 where God is speaking to Isaac:

Gen 26:3-5 Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. {4} I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, {5} because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws."

What is the most outstanding example of Abraham's obedience? In Genesis 22, Abraham is instructed to sacrifice his son Isaac. Abraham didn't argue...He just obeyed. Would we?

Let's look at verses 15-18 and notice God's reward to Abraham:

Gen 22:15-18 The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time {16} and said, "I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, [Notice that God describes Isaac as Abraham's only son. Heís saying that Ishmael will not inherit Abraham's blessings as a descendent.] {17} I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, {18} and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me."

God could depend upon Abraham. When told something, God knew Abraham would do it.

Letís read the parable of the pounds (not the talents):

Luke 19:12-27 He said: "A man of noble birth [Christ] went to a distant country [heaven] to have himself appointed king and then to return. {13} So he called ten of his servants [True Christians] and gave them ten minas. [A mina is a weight of money. In today's money, if it were of gold, it might be worth about $6500. Spiritually, these minas could best be compared with the issuance of the Holy Spirit.] 'Put this money to work,' [use it to make it grow] he said, 'until I come back.' {14} "But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, 'We don't want this man to be our king.' [These are worldly people, professing to be "Christians" and Jews (who have no king but Caesar). Notice that this parable talks about both true Christians and worldly Christians.] {15} "He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it. {16} "The first one came and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned ten more.' {17} "'Well done, my good servant!' his master replied. 'Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.' [Notice that he did not say "Go to heaven". The cities are on earth.] {18} "The second came and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned five more.' {19} "His master answered, 'You take charge of five cities.' {20} "Then another servant came and said, 'Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. {21} I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.' [He didn't trust Christ.] {22} "His master replied, 'I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? {23} Why then didn't you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?' {24} "Then he said to those standing by, 'Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.' {25} "'Sir ,' they said, 'he already has ten!' {26} "He replied, 'I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given [still talking about the Holy Spirit], but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. {27} But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them--bring them here and kill them in front of me.'" [This may refer to the wanton destruction of the Jews down to our time but probably also refers to those worldly people who profess to be Christians but who reject Christ's ways and authority by acting worldly and hiding any of their conversion before the world.]

Some of these men were responsible, some were not. Christ isn't going to personally tell you to be responsible but He will expect to see results when He returns. Are we being responsible for the Holy Spirit given to us? Are we causing it to increase? What will be our reward?

Let's look at some scriptures describing trustworthiness:

Prov 25:13 Like the coolness of snow at harvest time is a trustworthy messenger to those who send him; he refreshes the spirit of his masters.

Yes, it's refreshing to know that someone will do the job right because they have proven themselves and have therefore won your trust.

Prov 13:17 A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a trustworthy envoy brings healing.

This is saying that a faithful person will get it done and benefits others in the process. The wicked or unfaithful falls into mischief or evil and so his errand or task fails. This is clearly evidenced by some of the laws passed by our State and Federal legislatures as well as evidenced by individuals we have worked with.

Prov 6:16-19 There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: {17} haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, {18} a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, {19} a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

God wants us to be a man of our words.

Prov 22:29 Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men.

Diligence will gain recognition. So will responsibility. So will skill.

Eccl 5:4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow.

In other words, don't commit yourself to something you won't do.

Isa 36:6 Look now, you are depending on Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff, which pierces a man's hand and wounds him if he leans on it! Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who depend on him.

This verse refers to undependable people who bite or attack instead of doing the job that's assigned to them.

In our day we might also apply this verse to the on-going land for peace agreements between Israel and the so-called Palestinians.

Prov 29:18 Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.

Donít be like blind politicians and worldly pleasure seekers. We need vision to know where situations are leading us.

Let's look at some examples where we can be led away from responsibility:

Borrowing:

Psa 37:21-22 The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously; {22} those the LORD blesses will inherit the land, but those he curses will be cut off.

Wickedness includes not repaying what's borrowed. If you are really responsible, you may not need to borrow at all. Of course the purchase of a house or other really major purchase would probably be the exception, but we should rarely have to borrow from a neighbor. But when asked, give generously.

Deu 28:12 The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.

A revelation of Americaís past blessings. This verse from the blessing and cursings chapter shows that it is a blessing to be able to lend and not to borrow. We need to remember this principle in our daily lifestyle, particularly in our efforts to obey God's laws and principles.

People who borrow things all the time, run their life like one big accident. If you borrow something, it must be returned like new. Don't borrow people's time. Time is valuable. Don't borrow money with the thought that the lender doesn't need it. If you loan money, you might as well plan on not getting it back because all-to-often you won't.

Parents are responsible for their children's actions. Society can try to correct them but the training of their conduct is primarily the parent's responsibility, not society's.

On the other hand, children are responsible for aged parents. The idea of putting aged parents in retirement homes because they would interfere with their children's lifestyle, is personally repugnant to me. There are, of course, justifiable exceptions.

1 Tim 5:8 If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

People must provide for their family. This is not limited to the man of the house. It includes the wife, mother, children - everyone. As I said, children are responsible for their aged parents. If you save third tithe (Deut 14:28-29), it can be used for supporting elderly parents, if necessary.

People in the church have a responsibility for the spiritual family as well. Let's look at the sixth chapter of Galatians to see that:

Gal 6:9-10 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. {10} Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Punctuality:

We all need to improve here. Some are habitually late. What is your reputation? How do punctual people manage it? If you can't get a job done, tell someone. If you are habitually late, you are definitely irresponsible. Irresponsible people tend to be poor communicators. Trashy people throw trash all around. We must respect our and other's property.

Responsibility on the Job:

Appearance, responsibility, dependability, trustworthiness are all more important than speed. Procrastination is an obstacle to being responsible. We must do things right now instead of putting it off.

The Big Test:

Do you do what you want to do or do you do what has to be done? Do you plan your life or just let things happen?

Mat 25:21 "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

Are we a responsible servant? We must be our brother's helper when he needs it but primarily we must be our own keeper.

Rom 15:1 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.

 

In conclusion, God will not give us responsibilities if we have not proven to Him that we are responsible in this life.

 

 

Sermon given by Wayne Bedwell

28 July 2012

 

 

Copyright 2012, Wayne Bedwell

 

 

 

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