Responsible, Responsibility

<<an obligation for which we are accountable>>

The obligation to perform or satisfactorily complete a task (assigned either by someone else or by our own promise) which has repercussions if not undertaken. Thus, we should fulfill our responsibilities personally or delegate various duties to suitable people ensuring they do the assigned tasks (Ex 18:13-26; Deut 1:9-18; Lk 16:10-12, 19:17; Act 6:1-4).

“The whole duty of man is to fear [respect] God and keep [obey] His commandments”. This is outworked through knowing and living by the principles of the Bible which are primarily to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and all your strength and your neighbour as yourself” (Eccl 12:13; Mk 12:30,31). Our neighbour refers to those ‘others’ in our lives we interact with by ‘letting our light shine’ before them through our God-honouring lives, doing to them what we would like them to do for us, before considering our own wants and praying for the lost (Mt 5:14-16; Lk 6:31, 10:27; 1 Tim 2:1). As Christians we are to use our talents and resources to care for the weak and disadvantaged, to do good, walk in the light and in fellowship one with another, and warn the unsaved of the penalty of their sin (Ezek 3:18,20, 33:1-9; Mt 25:14-30; Rom 15:1,2; Gal 6:10; 1 Tim 6:17-19; Tit 3:14; Jas 1:27; 1 Jn 1:7). If we don’t fulfill these obligations we sin, while those that are faithful  build up their confidence and character and will be given opportunity for further usefulness (Mt 27:24; Lk 17:10; Jas 4:17).

To fulfil this obligation we follow Jesus, the good Shepherd (Jn 10:4). The job description includes these directions, “Go and make disciples…Remain in [Christ]…Take captive every thought to make
it obedient to Christ…Train yourself to be godly…Live self-controlled, upright and godly lives…Add
to your faith...Grow in grace…Purify yourself” (Mt 28:19,20; Jn 15:4; 2 Cor 10:5; 1 Tim 4:7; Tit 2:12;

We can only change what we take ownership of

2 Pet 1:5-8, 3:18; 1 Jn 3:3). One of our primary responsibilities is to take ownership of our own behaviour. Rather than pointing out the faults of others we are to be occupied with protecting the inner self which is the foundation of all we do, guarding against evil influences affecting our minds, being accountable to others and maintaining the spiritual disciplines (Prov 4:23; Mt 7:3-5). Consistently read the Bible and pray, while living a life of faith and love.

Some implications:

1/. Responsibility always comes as a choice and with a price tag, whether fulfilled or neglected. When we hear or know the truth, we have the option to obey and be blessed or rebel and suffer loss. Jesus used the illustration about the wise and foolish builders; both heard the same information, one put into practice His teaching by establishing a robust foundation for their life, enabling them to survive the storm, while the other ignored the teaching and, because there was no solid footing, experienced devastation (Mt 7:24-27). The Bible is clear – good intentions and passive acknowledgment are not enough, action is required. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (Jas 1:22, 2:15,16). It is also our responsibilty to monitor what we expose ourselves to, for once destructive images and thoughts have entered our minds their detrimental influence has taken a foothold.
Those who attribute every wrong personal choice and sinful action to Satan and his evil spirits is negating their individual responsibility. 

He has ‘set before us life and death’ so it is essential to make godly decisions, for while we can freely decide the path to travel we have no control over the consequences of our actions if we make ungodly choices (Deut 30:15,19). We will ‘reap what we sow’, so think before acting by considering the likely

effects. “For if you live according to the sinful nature you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live” (Rom 8:13; Gal 6:7,8). While God, in His mercy, can redeem the past at harvest time it is too late to plant good seed. He won’t over-ride what is our duty to do, for in the exam He will only help us recall the information that we have previously learnt.

2/. Although we should live with integrity and accountability before others any sin against them pales into insignificance when viewed as offences against God’s standards, and unless confessed we will have to give account of them to God (Gen 39:9; 2 Sam 12:13; Ps 51:4; Rom 14:12). We must take

   My first and greatest responsibility is me    – Matthew 7:5

ownership for our sin, as is only sin that is acknowledged and repented of that can be forgiven (Gen 3:12,13; Ps 32:5, 41:4; Lk 15:18,21; 1 Jn 1:9). We must face our problems, not run from them (we should run from temptation though), then we can move on into increased freedom and usefulness in the Kingdom of God. Both Nehemiah and Daniel personally owned and confessed their sin along with that of their fellow Jews (Neh 1:5-11; Dan 9:3-19). In contrast, King Saul when challenged about his wilful disobedience, continued to avoid his responsibility and paid the price (1 Sam 15:15-23).

God has given us the resources and it is our obligation to walk in victory.  We choose which way the battle goes for “You must master sin or it will master you” with either God or Satan providing the momentum, depending on the route chosen (Gen 4:7).  While in our own ability we cannot conquer Satan’s temptation we can as we rely on divine assistance, understanding “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness” (2 Tim 2:19).

3/. The Bible stresses our responsibility to faithfully see a task to completion, saying “don’t neglect…be diligent…persevere”. This may necessitate prioritizing other demands so that the essential ones get done first and the ‘urgent’ ones take their rightful place (1 Tim 4:14-16). When a need presents itself, we have a responsibility to act (with integrity), if it is in our power to do so, using the Bible’s guidelines.  As Christ’s representatives, He gives us the authority to use His name to do His work, understanding this brings great blessing but also obligation to resist our selfish nature and grow more like Christ – living as ‘children of light’ by walking in righteousness (Rom 6:12,13, 8:13,29; 2 Cor 5:15; Eph 4:22-24, 5:8; Col 3:5-14; Tit 2:12; 1 Pet 1:14; 1 Jn 2:6).

4/. The unbalanced lifestyle of being so busy serving God that you neglect your family and other responsibilities is not a good witness (Mt 15:6; Gal 6:10; 1 Tim 5:8). It is our task to keep our body in submission and in good shape through wise eating, adequate sleep and exercise for “The grace of God teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Dan 1:8, 10:3; 1 Cor 9:27; Tit 2:11,12; 2 Pet 1:5-7). This includes having right thoughts, attitudes, and doing good to others even if they mean harm to us (2 Cor 10:5; 1 Pet 3:9,10). God also holds us environmentally accountable to care for the earth (Gen 1:28, 2:15).

5/. The responsibility of every Christian is to make Christ known and to assist in the spreading of the gospel. While not everyone can physically go to another country as a missionary we all should reach out to our neighbours and those in our lives. We are not to ignore the plight of the needy or rescue them by doing what they should do for themselves, however when we help carry the burdens of others we can often be the solution by empowering them to help themselves (Prov 3:27; Mt 25:35-45; Gal 6:2,5; Jas 2:16,17). All our efforts should be guided by the eternal perspective and the principle of sowing and reaping (1 Cor 15:58; Gal 6:7,9,10).

6/. The greater the opportunity and authority, the greater the responsibility to use it correctly and fulfill what God has called us to accomplish, knowing it is though working with others as a team to meet common goals that our individual calling is also fulfilled (Lk 12:48; 1 Cor 3:6-9; Gal 6:5). This applies

What are my primary responsibilities at this time? How am I fulfilling them?

particularly to those in positions of responsibility in the church (Act 6:3; Phil 4:9; 1 Tim 3:7). If something captures your heart leading to personal involvement in a project there will develop a genuine responsibility and a healthy ‘ownership’ of it indicated by the use of ‘my’ and ‘our’ instead of the ‘them’ and ‘they’ of disengagement and non-interest (Jn 10:11-13). People of character ask, ‘What are my responsibilities’, not ‘what are my rights?’ They understand if they don’t do what they should, other people will suffer. God expects us to prepare for the future and He won’t rescue us when we cause our own problems through lack of planning or action by us.

We should make every decision with eternity in view for whatever we do or fail to do on earth we will stand accountable for (Rom 14:10-12; 2 Cor 5:9,10; Heb 10:27).

See also: accountability, attitude, authority, choices, commitment, consequences, delegate, effort, entry points, faithfulness, obedience, obligations, ownership, persevere, put off/put on, rights, stewardship.