What would you say is your greatest ability?
At Rock Brook, we care about your abilities, because we believe when God created you, he created you uniquely. He gave you talents and abilities and specific opportunities.
Perhaps, your greatest ability is responsibility. Responsibility is the ability to respond to life. It’s one of the greatest gifts that God has given you. When God created you, he gave you the ability to choose your response to life. You can respond in many different ways to stress, problems, crises, opportunities, and relationships.
It’s all your choice.
You do not get to choose a lot of things about your life, but you do have the freedom to chose how you react to life. Because you have that choice, you are response-able. If you want to live a successful, significant, and God honoring life, you have to start with personal responsibility.
Responsibility is the foundation of the foundation.
You can’t build any values into your life if you don’t personally accept responsibility for your choices, your character, and your values. The problem is, naturally, nobody wants to accept responsibility. We would rather accuse and excuse. We want to accuse other people (it’s all their fault) and we want to excuse ourselves (it’s not my fault).
Three Foes of Personal Responsibility
There are three mentalities that are the antithesis of personal responsibility:
- The rights mentality: “I have my rights and that’s all I’m interested in.” or “I demand my rights.”
- The victim mentality: “None of my problems are my fault. In fact, they’re all your fault.”
- The entitlement mentality: “I deserve it.”
In stark contrast to all of that, notice what the Bible says,
“Live life, then, with a due sense of responsibility, not as men who do not know the meaning and purpose of life but as those who do.” Ephesians 5:15 PH
The point of this verse is this.
If you live your life in a responsible way it means you probably know the meaning of life.
On the other hand, if you are living an irresponsible life, you don’t know the meaning of life, your purpose, or why God put you on this planet.
Why Live Responsibly?
1. Because God is watching you.
God sees everything and is going to judge us one day on how we lived our lives. Life is a test of responsibility.
“Nothing in all the world can be hidden from God. Everything is clear and lies open before him, and to him we must explain the way we have lived.” Hebrews 4:13 NCV
God is interested in is your character because character is the only thing you’re going to take with you when you die. Do you have the character, the humility, and the wisdom to know Him personally through His son Jesus Christ, and to become more like him?
“Each of us will give a personal account to God.” Romans 14:12 NLT
We rationalize our irresponsibility thinking, “Nobody will ever know.” But God knows. And He’s the only one that really matters.
2. Because others are affected by your life.
None of us live to ourselves alone, we are all interdependent.
“People should be concerned about others and not just about themselves.” 1 Corinthians 10:24
Every decision you make affects somebody else, even the secret ones. It changes you and you then influence other people by the changes in your life. You may not see the visible results but every choice you make influences somebody else and every time you’re irresponsible it hurts somebody else. There is no such thing as a non-affecting decision.
“Love cares more for others than for self.” 1 Corinthians 13:5 MSG
3. When you are responsible, God rewards it.
The Bible says that in eternity we will be rewarded according to our responsibility and our relationship to Christ here on earth. God has made an investment in your talents, abilities, and opportunities when He created you. He expects a return on His investment.
“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?” Luke 16:10-11 (NLT)
If you use your influence well, you become more influential. If you use your possessions well, God will provide more of them. Why should God give you more money when you’re not responsible with the finances you’ve got right now? He doesn’t have any obligation to help you when you’re living irresponsibly in that area or any other area. But on the other hand, if you will be responsible God will bless your socks off in a way you can’t imagine.
“To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given.” Luke 19:26 NLT
How Can You Become a More Responsible Person?
- By controlling your reactions
You can’t control things and tragedies that happen to you. But you can control your response and reaction. God says maturity and responsibility are evident in your life when you can handle the pressures, the stresses, the problems, and the pains of life without loosing it, without becoming stressed out, or becoming angry and blowing up.
The key to responsibility is learning to control your emotional reactions.
“A fool expresses all his emotions, but a wise person controls them.” Proverbs 29:11 GWT
The way we usually express our emotions is through our words. God says when people hurt you, turn around and do good to them.
“Don’t let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good.” Romans 12:21 NLT
One of the ways you show responsibility is by not trying to get even with people who hurt you. When you try to get even with someone, you’ve just lowered yourself to that persons’s standard. You are even with them. And a person who tries to get even is no better than the person who did the wrong. But when you forgive that person, you move on and say, “God, I’m going to let You take care of it. I know You’re going to settle the score and I trust You to do that.”
2. By guarding your mind
Our minds control everything. The Bible says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Our minds influence our thoughts, affect our feelings, and our feelings affect our actions, but it all starts in the mind.
You are not responsible for every little stray thought that passes through your mind. Aren’t you glad of that? Those can come from all different things like conversations you overhear by accident or things that you see by accident. When Satan gives you a thought, that’s called temptation. When God gives you a thought, that’s called inspiration. Both God and the devil, good and evil, are trying to influence you all the time.
Martin Luther, the theologian, said it like this,
“You cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.”
What you are responsible for are the thoughts you choose to hold on to and go over and over in your mind. God is going to hold you accountable for what you think about and allow into your mind. Whatever you put into your mind is inevitably going to come out in your behavior and your beliefs.
When you allow worldly influence in your mind, it weakens you, it weakens your values, and it lowers you because you’ve become accustomed to it. Then it doesn’t bother you anymore. When things don’t bother you anymore, that is a warning light that you’ve already passed the threshold.
There are three things you can fill your mind with:
- The truth — things that always build you up.
- Poison — gossip, trash, pornography, immoral shows, criticism, etc.
- Stuffing — neutral; stuff that’s neither good, but can still take up space.
You might say, “I never have any desire to read the Bible.” That makes complete sense, because you fill your mind up with other stuff until there’s no room left. When you fill your mind with other things, you don’t hunger for God’s word. If you eat a whole meal of stuffing, when the steak or the desert comes, you don’t want any of it. You’re not hungry for it.
“A wise person is hungry for knowledge, [the truth] while the fool feeds on trash.” Proverbs 15:14 NLT
Your character comes from what you think about. Have you been vigilant with certain things you won’t watch or listen to? Or is your mind just an open freeway that anybody who wants to drop garbage in it, can? You’ll say it doesn’t affect you, but you’re kidding yourself and you’re being irresponsible.
3. By admitting your mistakes.
Typically we try to accuse and excuse. Whenever we blow it we say, “It’s not my fault; it’s all your fault. I’m a victim of circumstances.”
“A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance.” Proverbs 28:13
God gives you another chance. He always gives you more chances if you confess and forsake your sins.
“Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins.” Ecclesiastes 7:20 NLT
We’ve all blown it. We’ve all been irresponsible. The Bible calls it sin, but God doesn’t want you going around with a heavy guilt trip about all the irresponsibility in your life. He wants you to go around with a sense of promise and hope and He will help you overcome it. He can even bring good out of the stupid decisions that you’ve made in your life if you’ll give them to Him. This is one of the great truths of God’s word.
Sometimes we feel so guilty and ashamed of stupid decisions we’ve made or irresponsible actions we’ve taken that the guilt and the shame actually perpetuates the problem and we keep doing what’s causing the problem. “I blew it so I’m bad. Since I’m bad, I’m going to blow it again.” It’s a cycle that you can’t seem to get out of.
The guilt and the shame actually keeps you locked in a lifestyle of irresponsibility. You make one dumb decision after another. What you need is a power beyond yourself. What you need is a savior who can forgive your sins, clear your conscience and break out of that cycle. Here’s the good news:
“All fall short of God’s glorious ideal; yet now God declares us`not guilty‘ if we trust in Jesus Christ, who in his kindness freely takes away our sins.”Romans 3:23-24
Check back on your discussion from last week. Any more thoughts or conclusions about the message on choosing your standard? How have you seen the temptations of individualism, secularism, materialism and relativism in your life?
Hear the Word
You don’t get to choose a lot of the circumstances and events that happen to you. But you do have the ability to choose how you react to life. Because you have the freedom to respond and you are able to respond you are response-able. You are responsible. Accepting responsibility is the foundation to building your life on values that last.
Three mindsets that keep us from accepting responsibility. A rights mindset, a victim mindset, and an entitlement mindset. In contrast to all of that, God says,
Live life, then, with a due sense of responsibility, not as men who do not know the meaning and purpose of life but as those who do. Ephesians 5:15 PH
- In what ways have you experienced rewards in your life for being responsible?
- What disadvantages or consequences have you experienced as a result of someone being irresponsible?
- When someone has wronged you, have you ever felt like you wanted to get back at that person? How might you change that response?
- How do you typically respond or react when you get frustrated, upset, mad, or angry?
- What practical steps can you take to guard your mind and fill it with truth?
- What have been some of the biggest mistakes in your life? Have you admitted your mistakes? Have you confessed your sins to God?
All fall short of God’s glorious ideal; yet now God declares us `not guilty’ if we trust in Jesus Christ, who in his kindness freely takes away our sins. Romans 3:23-24 TLB
Tell Someone Else
Who can you share this message with? You could send them a link to the message at rockbrook.org or share the podcast with them. You might consider giving them a Building Your Life On Values That Last study guide.