Tag Archives: responsibility
Whew! That was a lot of questions to read — and think about — in our last post. In this first chapter we want to emphasize the issue of personal responsibility. Who’s in charge of your life? Now, the spiritual answer is “Jesus.” But we both know that that’s only sometimes true.
There may be splotches of spirituality in your life once in a while, but the bottom line is that you control your daily activities. You decide what to think about. You choose what words to use and when to use them. You have the power to live your life 24/7 without recognizing that it is the Lord who gives you your very next lungful of air to breathe.
The “Let Go and Let God” Myth
In the 19th and 20th centuries there was a movement sometimes referred to as the “Victorious Christian Life” movement. Also called “the Keswick Movement,” its basic message was a kind of passive Christian living which stressed God’s work in making us like Christ. That’s all well and good, but what about personal responsibility?
The “Get Up! And Get Going!” Truth
What impression do we get from the Scriptures about growing in the Christian life? As I read my Bible I’m challenged to roll up my spiritual sleeves and get to work! We read in 2 Peter 1 that we are to “make every effort to add to your faith . . .” (v. 5). We then have the list of those seven hard-to-achieve godly qualities (goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, love) which we are to add. These qualities won’t be given to us as Christmas presents, awarded to us for faithful church attendance, or bequeathed us when a spiritual family member dies! WE are to ADD these qualities to our lives! The question is: Are you making “every effort” in adding these necessary components of the Christian life?
Please notice several hard-hitting conclusions to which Peter comes in this passage. The first conclusion concerns the one who is following Peter’s command and is adding to his faith: (1) Adding these virtues will keep one from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of Jesus Christ (v. 8). Please don’t miss the point that one is to possess these qualities “in increasing measure.” We don’t get a one-and-done dose of self-control or perseverance or love when we roll up our sleeves and take responsibility. No. These qualities are to increase.
The second conclusion Peter makes relates to the one who doesn’t have these qualities and, presumably, shows no interest in working toward them. (2) The one who doesn’t have these qualities has become blind and forgetful. Peter states that he “is nearsighted and blind” (v. 9). One who is near-sighted sees only what is in front of them. They have no vision of that which is distant or far off. He or she can’t see what lies ahead. They see only what’s close to them. It’s bad to be near-sighted. It’s worse to be “blind.” That’s quite a charge Peter makes here in verse 9. The one not working on these virtues is not just near-sighted, but blind. Blind to what God wants to do in and through his life, blind to the sins that need to be shed, the temptations that need to be avoided, the opportunities which need to be taken advantage of.
I’m 72 and I sometimes forget things. Forgetfulness comes with old age. This person who is not actively seeking to add these virtues to his faith is like an old man who is constantly forgetting. What is this one who’s not making the effort forgetting? They are forgetting that they have been forgiven! Can there be a worst thing to forget? Not working at adding these virtues to one’s faith means the atoning work of Christ was worthless, ineffective, of no lasting value, and suitable for forgetting.
There are many other passages that challenge the believer to take responsibility for his spiritual life, to get going, to refuse spiritual stagnation. For example, we read in Jeremiah 6:16, “Thus saith the Lord, ‘Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.’ But they said, ‘We will not walk therein.’” (KJV). Enoch walked with God, we read in Genesis 5:24. He didn’t just stand around. And one day God essentially said to Enoch, “Enoch, we’re closer to my house than to yours. Why don’t you just come home with me?”
We are talking about the issue of sanctification, of course. If we find ourselves “stuck,” God provides steps that we can take to move on in the Christian, to really begin to walk with the Lord, to advance in godliness. But to do so involves answering the most foundational question in our study and we will do so in our next chapter.
113 I hate double-minded people,
but I love your law.
114 You are my refuge and my shield;
I have put my hope in your word.
115 Away from me, you evildoers,
that I may keep the commands of my God!
116 Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live;
do not let my hopes be dashed.
117 Uphold me, and I will be delivered;
I will always have regard for your decrees.
118 You reject all who stray from your decrees,
for their delusions come to nothing.
119 All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross;
therefore I love your statutes.
120 My flesh trembles in fear of you;
I stand in awe of your laws.
Classic Watterson! What a great line — “Your denial of my victimhood is lowering my self-esteem!” You’ve got to hand it to Calvin’s teacher — she says the right things! In another cartoon, Calvin says something like, “I hate it when she drinks Maalox right from the bottle!”
Learning to take responsibility for my actions, choices, decisions, priorities — is a pretty good definition of MATURITY, don’t you think?
Calvin may be onto something quite profound here. In our blame-anyone-but-yourself culture, we don’t naturally want to admit our mistakes, acknowledge our bad choices, or confess our waywardness. The evangelist Billy Sunday said, “An excuse is a skin of a reason stuffed with a lie.”
We are responsible for our actions — and our inactions. And that’s where God’s grace and mercy come in, don’t they?