“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”——Matthew 7:3
We live in a world where people continually see themselves as a victim. Something happens and all you hear about is how it is someone else’s fault. This mentality of victimhood has taken over much of today’s thinking to the point where hardly anyone takes any responsibility for their own actions.
Growing up, my mom would always tell me to, “take some responsibility”. It was her way of not letting me pit the blame on others when I clearly needed to evaluate my part in things.
Personal responsibility starts with reflecting on our own lives. When you always look outward, you never see where you have failed, not done as you should, or even seen the sin in our own lives. This introspection is critical, not just for the world, but especially for anyone to put their faith in Jesus.
This victim mentality has also taken root in churches. Instead of boldly confronting sin, many have focused on simply comforting people. They say things like, “we all sin”, or “life is just messy”. This sounds more like an excuse for sin rather than understanding the Gospel.
My dad once told me about a pastor that talked about how people go to church after being so beat up during the week that all he wanted to do was just to show people love. Although we can all acknowledge that people are hurting and going through very difficult circumstances, without confronting sin, people will never realize that their true need is repentance and faith in the Lord. God’s love is not devoid of recognizing our utter sinfulness just because people are so “beat up”.
Taking personal responsibility requires us to see ourselves as the perpetrator.
When we go against God’s Way and sin against Him, ourselves, and others, we are not the victim, but the one who is truly guilty. We are the true offender. It is our offense against a Holy God that deserves God’s wrath and punishment. Our sin has separated us from fellowship with God and the just sentence is eternal punishment in Hell.
A growing number today don’t want to hear the bad news about sin. Even a growing number of pastors and leaders don’t like the “atonement theory” about Jesus dying on the cross as punishment and substitute in our place. They would rather redefine the atonement to something that better suits their idea of non-violence and Jesus’ victory over a violent world.
The reality is that when anyone begins to redefine foundational doctrines of the faith, it changes faith completely. When we don’t understand that we are the ones that are guilty and deserving God’s punishment for our sin, we are no different than seeing ourselves as merely victims in some cruel game.
This isn’t to say that awful things don’t happen and that we can actually be the casualty of evil at times. There are times when sin and sinful actions are done against us. But to always be looking to blame others for the reasons for broken relationships, lost jobs, lying, cheating, or the myriad of other things we may have done, is to miss the point completely.
Personal responsibly requires great humility.
Pride is the opposite of humility. Pride says that I am better and more deserving of beneficial treatment. When things go bad, a life of pride points out the faults in others, but doesn’t look at the sin in one’s self.
Humility, on the other hand, truly understands that the only thing each of us deserves is God’s punishment for our sin. Humility takes an honest look at how we have gone our own way against God. Humility doesn’t downplay our guilt, but embraces our utter need for God’s grace and forgiveness.
Many reduce sin to simply “making mistakes”. Sin is so much more than just “making mistakes”. Sin is open rebellion against God’s Way. Taking responsibility for our sin is to make it clear that we are the offenders.
So when we sin against God, ourselves, and others, we cannot look for excuses to blame others. We must humbly accept our guilt and confess our sin to God and to those we have sinned against.
Seeking forgiveness is difficult for all of us. It is difficult because we don’t know how the other party is going to respond. Some even believe that they cannot go to God and find grace and forgiveness. But if we know God is loving and desires us to confess and repent of sin, we should quickly go to Him knowing we will find mercy, hope, peace, and true forgiveness.
In seeking forgiveness from people, we often question if they will react in anger or even reject us. But taking personal responsibility should not be based upon how others may respond, but rather about us owning up to our sin and the things we have done; it is doing what is right in spite of the outcome.
Taking responsibility is never easy, but it is absolutely necessary. In a world that continually sees itself as the victim, we must walk in humility and examine our own lives. As believers, it is even more important that we don’t fall into the victim mentality of the world, but live in a way that truly takes ownership of our sin.
As my mom always would say, may we each truly learn to, “take some responsibility.”