Growing up, you probably remember a parent, teacher, or authority figure saying you must be more responsible. There was a moment in time when those words became alive, and suddenly, we became responsible adults (at least most of us).
I think you would agree that responsibility is a big word, but an even bigger task. This expectation of responsibility was not just something our parents asked of us; God also requires it of us. He has given us his word, which is full of things we are responsible for, which begs the question, what does the Bible say about responsibility?
What Does the Bible Say about Responsibility?
I think it always makes sense to start with a definition to help bring more clarity to a specific word. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, there are a few different definitions. Here is the one I want to highlight:
“The ability to answer for one’s conduct and obligations, to be trustworthy, to be able to choose for oneself between right and wrong.”
When you consider this definition, it becomes easier to look at the question of what the Bible says about responsibility? Throughout Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, God has given men things they are responsible for with an expectation of accountability to what he has given them. The very first-person God ever created was given a charge of responsibility.
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2:15-17)
From the very beginning, God gave Adam the responsibility of work and the responsibility of obedience. God gave him an assignment and a command, and he held him accountable for both. This responsibility journey was real for Adam and has been real for everyone since Adam. God still gives commands and assignments, holding us accountable to accomplish them.
Where Does the Bible Talk about Responsibility?
If you are wondering where the Bible talks about responsibility, the answer in a word is everywhere. Responsibility is a major theme throughout the Bible, discussed in some form or fashion from cover to cover. While the Bible may not use the word “responsibility” many times, it is implied in many ways. Let me give you two examples for now:
The responsibility of managing resources
“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48)
This verse never mentions the word responsibility, yet we see we are entrusted and expected to do much with what we have been given. From our definition of responsibility earlier, this is simply being trustworthy.
The responsibility of work
“How long will you lie there, you sluggard?
When will you get up from your sleep?
A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
and poverty will come on you like a thief
and scarcity like an armed man.” (Proverbs 6:9-11)
Solomon is talking about the responsibility of work again without ever using the word in these verses. This is a common pattern throughout the Bible, which is why we see the emphasis on responsibility throughout it.
What Are Christians Responsible for?
As Christians, the list of what we are responsible for is too numerous to list but let me give you a few. Based on what the Bible says about responsibility, here are ten things Christians are responsible for. As you consider this list, I hope this becomes more sobering as you think about what it means to be a Christ-follower. To understand the impact, you should precede each of these responsibilities with the following statement:
“If I am a follower of Christ, I am responsible for...”
Preaching the Gospel and making disciples
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
Rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39)
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:8-10)
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
Keeping a proper attitude
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing.” (Philippians 2:14)
Studying God’s word
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (Joshua 1:8)
These ten things we are responsible for are enough to keep us busy, and I have not even scratched the surface. As I said from Genesis to Revelation, God’s word is filled with things we are responsible for.
How Is it Even Possible to Live Up to Our Responsibility?
Being a responsible Christ-follower can seem daunting but allow me to give you a bit of good news. Even though you are responsible for these things, you are not alone in attempting to accomplish them. God has given you the Holy Spirit. Part of his job is to help you live up to the things God requires of you. I think it is easy to recognize that without his help, it would be impossible to be everything God desires you to be.
For this reason, you must learn to lean into the Holy Spirit and depend on his strength. When you do this, he will keep you on task. Without him, you are left to your own devices (and good luck with that one).
What Do We Do After Learning about Responsibility?
You have now seen and read some of the things you are responsible for as a follower of Christ. So, where do you go from here? Here is one last thing we are responsible for every time we read, study, or hear God’s word. We must put it into practice.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22)
It does you no good just to read and learn if you are not going to do what it says. According to James, you are deceiving yourself. Doing what God says in his word is one of the top responsibilities you have. I challenge you to take the next step and don’t just be a hearer or reader; become a doer. After all, this is your responsibility and what God expects of you. You have been given much, so much is now required.
Photo Credit: Getty Images/enotmaks
Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. He has also just released his new book The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. Do you want to go deeper in your walk with the Lord but can’t seem to overcome the stuff that keeps getting in the way? This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.
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