2014-03-25 - Whatever Happened to Responsibility?
Originally Published 2002-08-02
1 John 1:8-9 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (NASBible: 1995 update.)
Have you heard? A man is suing a fast-food restaurant because he holds them responsible for his weight gain. He seems to conveniently overlook the fact that what he ate, and how much, were no one's decision but his own.
A woman flees the police at a high rate of speed, with three children in the car. For all they know, the children have been kidnapped. There is a horrible accident and an innocent bystander is killed. The police are blamed, and for sure, they have to be judicious about chases. But somehow the media hones in on chase policies, and barely mentions that the woman, who turned out to have thirty stolen credit cards, was endangering her children and holds a share of the responsibility.
Whatever happened to personal responsibility? As 1 John 1:8 shows, God holds each of us accountable for our own sins. It's easier to blame it on someone else. Then we don't have to do anything about it, and who knows -- maybe we can even earn a few bucks out of the whole deal! But we can't restore our relationship with God that way.
As verse 9 reminds us, we also need to confess our sins. But God doesn't give us a "carte blanche" forgiveness policy. We have to truly be repentant. Sometimes we are sorry for being caught, or sorry for the consequences of our sins. But are we truly sorry that we sinned against God or hurt someone?
The man very well could win his lawsuit; that will be decided by a jury -- and it's not without precedent. But he's not going to learn what he needs to. He's not going to grow into the person God wants him to be, nor will he overcome his problem -- if he isn't willing to accept his own part. I have nothing against overweight people; I have struggled with weight at times, myself, and I know weight loss can be arduous! But I would never blame my favorite restaurant, as no one held a gun to my head and forced me to eat Trout Amandine.
If we are going to mature as Christians, we need to accept our own responsibilities for our sins and mistakes. Not only is it the godly thing to do; it's "for our own good." Playing the "Blame Game" is counterproductive to problem-solving. If a parent blames his children for his abusive anger outbursts, he isn't going to tame his temper. If a woman blames her family for her speeding (they were running behind and she had to rush), she will likely get more tickets in the future - and it won't help her in court, either.
It's easier to blame someone else. It is painful to admit we are responsible for mistakes (especially costly ones); it is for me! But we won't be "the best we can be" until we do that.
Janice P. Moser
All scripture references are from the NASB unless otherwise noted.