For me, one of the most challenging words in the English language, has been the one responsibility. It means “liable to be called to account, answerable, morally accountable for actions, capable of rational conduct.” Responsibility seems to sum up the whole aspect of our accountability to God, and this issue should affect and direct all of our daily affairs, for “each one of us will give an account of himself to God” (Ro.14:12).
About 20 years ago, I stumbled across a quote that has really helped me since:
The roots of every cultural crisis rest in personal crises. The failure of a culture is the failure of the men in it. A society cannot be vital and possessed of an on-going vigour if the men therein are marked by a loss of faith, a retreat from responsibility, and an unwillingness to cope with personal problems. A culture loses its will to live and to conquer if its members manifest a spirit of retreat and surrender… Not surprisingly, our world-wide cultural crisis is rooted in the failure of men.1
All of us are called by God to be accountable. This may mean getting meat out of the freezer for the evening meal early in the day, or putting the garbage out. It may mean examining the different prices on items in the supermarket before making a selection, getting the washing off the line when it looks like rain, switching off the TV when a program is inappropriate, ensuring the oil in the car is changed at regular intervals, or restraining our temper when we get frustrated with a family or church member, or a neighbour.
The Christian life means an embrace of responsibility. When Zaccheus was converted through meeting the Lord, he immediately gained a new sense of responsibility in relation to his money, and those he had stolen from: “Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much” (Luke 19:8). Zaccheus was an example of Paul’s teaching, that “he who steals must steal no longer…” (Eph.4:28).
Christian responsibility means we must stop doing some things, and it also means we should start doing some things, like obeying the Ten Commandments (Ex.20:1-17). It means for men loving, and behaving self-sacrificially towards our wife and family (Eph.5:25-33). It involves tithing, loving our neighbour, changing our attitude towards our boss and towards work, and a multitude of other changes in our attitudes and our activities.
Why? Because we understand that we will all have a day of accountability before Jesus Christ, and the knowledge of this most certain fact in the future should motivate us to change, for we are “trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord” (Eph.5:10).
All of this takes time. I am still having to change the way I think and act, after forty four years in the faith, because I frequently become aware of things in me that God isn’t pleased with. This too, is in accord with scripture, for the Bible says that “the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day” (Prov.4:18).
All of this is part of God’s process in our lives to prepare us both for eternity, and for lives of fruitful service. The world too, is crying out for maturity amongst God’s people, so that there can be wise leadership and direction in the days that lie ahead. Both Joseph and Daniel were used of God as His ambassadors to an ungodly culture, and this must be a part of what lies ahead for God’s people today.
True Christian responsibility begins with our attention to, and obedience to God’s Word, and from this flows true Christian discipleship and maturity. If not us, who? If not now, when?
Our cultural crisis rests in the retreat of males from the responsibilities and duties of manhood…the crisis is past deferment. The time has come for men to ground themselves in the whole counsel of God, to be responsible, mature and venturesome. There can be no resolution of our world crisis without a resolution of the crisis of male responsibility.2
1 Rousas Rushdoony, “Roots of Reconstruction,” 1991, p.168-9.
2 Rushdoony, p.171 –72.