Question of Responsibility

This is one of those topics that cannot be explained in 1,000 words or less, or even 1,000,000 words.  But, I can raise some questions you might want to think about.

Responsibility is complicated, and often involves the lives of other people.  My actions may affect others, positively, negatively, or a combination of both.  Am I responsible for my brother?  Or, put another way, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”, which was Cain’s question to God when he murdered Abel.  Of course, the answer is ‘Yes’ you are your brother’s keeper, at least to some degree.

Let’s get down to basics, and try to sort out this mess.  I am responsible to others to the extent of what is possible.  There are some situations I might like to solve for others, but it is often not possible, and even if it was possible, may not be the correct thing to do.

Responsibility for others sometimes brings guilt and shame, sometimes deserved, but often not.  The parents of mass killers often face guilt, shame, and questions.  “What could I have done differently to prevent this?”, “Was there something I did wrong in the raising of this child?”  As often as not, the responsibility lies not with the parenting, but with the individual who planned and committed the acts.

But, this does not completely relieve us of all responsibility.  If I have food, and my brother is starving, I may have some responsibility to relieve his suffering.  But, on the other hand, you cannot solve all the world’s problems, either.

So, where do we draw the lines, so we can bring some sanity to this discussion?

Perhaps, one answer goes back to the old serenity prayer.  There are things you can change, and you should have the courage to do so.  And, there are many things you cannot change, and you must let them go.  There are some things that only God can change, and for us to try and do those things will only bring frustration and needless suffering.  The key, of course, is in knowing the difference.

I have certain responsibilities to my family, but I cannot solve all of their problems.  I sometimes encounter personal sadness in my inability to change certain situations, but I must learn to find a way to let them go.  If I don’t it will only hurt my ability to do those things that I can do.

You cannot fix everyone’s problems.  But, there may be some things God brings your way that you can fix, or at least offer advice on.

To live the life God has given you means there are often some things you must sacrifice in order to help someone else.  In other words, the worse type of life you can live is one of selfishness, where all you think about is yourself, and your own wants and needs.

The perfect example is to take a look at the life of Jesus.  A careful study of the Gospels shows that He did very, very little for Himself.  In fact, most everything recorded shows He did and said things for the benefit of others, not Himself.  He, Himself, said that if you want to be ‘great’ you must be a servant to all.

So. responsibility is a tough thing to sort out and understand.  But, to some degree, we all have responsibilities, and they cannot be laid aside or ignored.  While you cannot fix everything, there are some things you can fix or help.  To ignore these opportunities is to put limits on our fruitfulness and purpose.

One Response to “Question of Responsibility”

  1. Barbara L. McGuire Says:

    Great blog. Unfortunately we are living in a world today where the average person thinks only of “me” and no one else. It’s sad because it is definitely in the church world. I ask the Lord daily to help me love like He loves. If we do then it’s about “others” and not us! Blessings….

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