Monday, March 17, 2008

Personal Responsibility

Nature or nurture?

We've all asked the question. We've watched as good parents struggle with children bent on destroying themselves, either with drugs or rebellion or both; and we've wondered. Why? How can such great parents turn out such crazy kids?

And the reverse is also true. Once in a while, a really bad parent ends up with the most amazing child.

Where'd it come from, we wonder.

It's the same question I ponder as I read through the books of First and Second Kings. In these books, the two nations, Israel (the Northern kingdom) and Judah (the Southern Kingdom) list king after king after king. And in one case after another, the Lord, through the writer of the Word, pronounces judgement on both the man and his leadership.

If you're paying attention, and you aren't confused by the narrative which jumps back and forth between the two countries (almost as if it were an account of the presidents of Canada and the United States, all mingled together) you'll notice the same thing in the book of kings. A good king is followed by a crazy son, who grows up to become a really bad king. Later, suddenly, for no apparent reason, the next generation produces a king who follows after God.

How can that be?

I can't find a consistent reason for any of it. Yes, the Word of God plays a part. Godly advisers play a part. But there is one other common denominator in all of the stories of all the kings included therein.

Personal Responsibility.

By this I mean that in NO CASE does God ever say, "Hey, you know, I realize that you had a really terrible upbringing. So, here's what I'm gonna do. I'll let it slide. After all, you didn't have anyone to teach you right from wrong..."

Nope. God holds each of these men personally responsible for his own choices.

Much as he holds us responsible for our own choices.

So, no matter how much you'd like to shift blame (and believe me, I'm the queen of blame-shifting), it isn't going to cut it with God. Don't tell him that you didn't go to church because your husband didn't want to. Don't explain that you don't read the Word because no one taught you how. Don't try to explain away your sin with cultural influences, family history, or genetics. It just won't cut it with God. He will hold YOU, personally responsible for your actions, choices, and attitudes.

But there is some really good news in all of this.

Once you take personal responsibility for yourself, you can make a great exchange. God himself will take the punishment for your foolishness. He will exchange your sin for his sinlessness. It's a remarkable bargain, delivered in the person of Jesus Christ. He died for your personal responsibility.

There will be an accounting. God will evaluate your life, just as he evaluated the lives of the Kings of Israel. Own up. Agree with the truth about your life. And then, make the exchange.

His death for your sin. His resurrection for your forgiveness. His new life for your new life.

It's a bargain, I'll tell you. I did it, in 1974. Wow, what a ride! I've enjoyed most every moment since then.

I've never been sorry. Try that on for size. How about you? Have you made the exchange/

Bette

4 comments:

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Christina said...

I made the exchange nearly 12 years ago!!! I am so happy I did. I totally agree about personal responsibility! We foster children and I am constantly trying to teach this point!

Anonymous said...

Hi Bette,
I will read your blog on personal responsability to our small congregation.

Thank you,
Iris

Anonymous said...

I just so happened to be reading 1 Kings this morning and was not looking forward to the long litany of who ruled when and what. I am also ministering to a group of homeless persons this morning about personal responsibility. I am going to share this with them and then, share it with my six sons.

There is a heart of compassion behind your
plea for personal responsibility. Th8s is evidence of the Spirit of Christ in your life. Thank you for using your talents in this way. You have truly blessed me this morning.

Michael Glass
New Port Richey, FL