religion, christianity, articles
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The "I" in Responsibility

By Irene C. Taylor

religion, articles, christianity

A young man (or woman) breaks the law and is arrested and brought into court for trial. The defense lawyer builds his case on the fact that the person on trial has had a troubled life with a dysfunctional family. Or that society has let him down by not providing for his every need. Thus he is relieved of all personal responsibility for his crime regardless of the seriousness of it.

We have reared a generation of "me" mentality. Whatever I want I should have according to current philosophy. Not only do they cry "give me" but "you owe me" as well. If I want it, you should provide it. The concept of personal responsibility seems to have been swept under the rug.

The Bible is a book which gives emphasis to individual responsibility. The law of Moses declared, "The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin" (Deut. 24:16).

In the New Testament we find that man's individual responsibility is still the norm. "[E]very idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment" (Matt. 12:36). "[H]e shall reward every man according to his works" (Matt. 16:27). "Who will render to every man according to his deeds" (Rom. 2:6). Salvation, likewise, is an individual matter. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:16).

In the parable of the talents, each one was given talents "according to his several ability" (Matt. 25:15). When the day of reckoning came each man was called to give an account of how he had used his talents.

In the picture of the judgment, reward in heaven or condemnation to eternal hell will be meted to each one according to his record (Matt. 5:41­46). Life is an individual matter and the Christian life is a matter of individual choice. We must make our own choices and face the consequences.

It is not past time for parents to return to the practice of teaching individual responsibility to our children. We do our children no favors when we "pull strings" to help them escape deserved punishment or "buy" them out of trouble. We must insist that they pay the price for their deeds. They need to learn early in life that the freedom to choose carries with it the responsibly to accept the consequences - good or bad.

Few of us grow up in totally ideal circumstances. It is the struggles of life that mold character. When we are young mother and dad direct our steps and bear a responsibility for guiding our path. When we reach maturity, it is time to cease hiding behind mother and dad and begin to stand on our own two feet. A big part of being mature is to cease trying to pass the blame to parents, society, or whomever. We must now shoulder responsibility for our own actions and rise above any adverse circumstances. We must cease trying to excuse our misdeeds by passing the buck! Maturity does not blame every misfortune and wrong choice on one's upbringing.

We as a nation need to quit playing the "blame game." Christians need to face the fact that we will each answer for our own deeds in this life. Others may wield a wrong influence on me but the final accounting will be mine for how I react to that influence. No one can make us do wrong unless and until we give in! And when we do give in, the blame will be ours for making a wrong decision.

Let's teach our children that responsibility is spelled with "i" instead of "u." Let's instill in them the sobering fact that, in judgment, they will answer for their own deeds and not how others treat them. It's time we re­learned the meaning of responsibility.

Published November 1997