Love And Responsibility

by Jeannette Haley

 

On February 14, greeting card, candy and flower sales soar as people scramble to show someone special how much they love them. This particular occasion and the activities associated with it are part of our culture, but for the Christian, expressions of love should be a natural and daily occupation. After all, those of us who are called by His name are to exemplify Him in all our ways, and one of those ways is by taking responsibility.

Most conflict in our world today between husbands and wives, children and parents, students and teachers, employees and employers, as well as nations and kingdoms can be linked to irresponsibility. When people on any level refuse to be responsible for their attitudes, words and deeds, conflict is the inevitable result. Irresponsibility shows a total lack of regard for truth on any level, and is the product of self-centeredness, slothfulness, pride, arrogance, and hard-heartedness. Irresponsibility is careless, and, in essence, displays a total lack of love for anyone other than itself.

Irresponsibility, if it is to be maintained, must be upheld by delusion and dishonesty. In other words, an irresponsible person needs to be able to justify his or her lack of response (taking responsibility) to do what is right. This usually translates as excuses, false accusations and denial of truth. It is wickedness in “inaction.”

Irresponsible people can be very good at playing games and giving the appearance of being responsible individuals. What this comes down to is that they do just enough to get by in their daily lives, while sidestepping anything that poses an inconvenience. Any responsibility that intrudes into their complacency, requiring them to go out of their way, usually results in a bad attitude.

God views irresponsible Christians as “lukewarm.” Revelation 3:15-16 says: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” A lukewarm Christian is a nominal Christian who simply wants to get by in this world, and then slide into heaven.

The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:13: “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” And,Hebrews 2:3 carries this solemn warning: “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation: which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?”

   Let us consider from what is commonly known as the “love chapter” how love and responsibility go hand in hand. 1 Corinthians 13:1 tells us: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” Here, the Spirit is speaking through the Apostle Paul reminding the Church that no matter how spiritually gifted believers may be, if they neglect benevolent love, it is all just a bunch of noise. Love is responsible for the welfare of others, especially brothers and sisters in the faith, and responds to their needs in a spirit of sacrificial generosity.

   1 John 3:16-18 puts it this way: “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”

Verse 2 tells us: “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” Here again, we see that regardless of how spiritually gifted, intelligent or wise a person may be, even with great faith, yet without benevolent love, his or her actions are nothing. This is a solemn statement for those in the Church today who see themselves as “wise” or who claim to be “prophets,” or who are pursuing power. Without that benevolent love, which comes from a pure and humble heart, they are “nothing.”

Then, Paul writes in verse 3: “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” This verse cuts through the façade of extreme good works to expose a person’s heart. God is always looking at our hearts to discover our true motivation for what we do (responsible love), or fail to do (irresponsibility and lack of love).

Verse 4: “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.” It takes responsibility to be longsuffering, and kind. It takes responsibility to one’s own attitudes and heart condition to recognize and reject jealousy of any kind, and it takes responsibility to maintain humility and the right perspective of oneself. Irresponsibility, on the other hand, has no inclination toward these loving endeavors, but ignores them in its complacent mode of self love.

Paul continues in verse 5: “Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil.” Behaving unseemly means shamefully. Christians need to beware of behavior that brings a reproach on the Gospel. Lack of manners and common decency, crude, cruel or cutting remarks, and worldly behavior should have no place in a Christian’s life. Such behavior is irresponsible and fails to reflect Christ.

It is also irresponsible to always be looking out for “number one.” Such people come across as clueless and careless to those around them. Love that is not easily provoked means that it is not touchy, nasty, harsh and unforgiving. In other words, it does not take itself too seriously, and is always gracious in responding to others, which can only occur when it “thinketh no evil.” Evil thoughts produce evil reactions and actions. The responsible Christian will settle these things with the Lord in his or her prayer closet.

Verse 6 continues: “Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.” This is another characteristic of the responsible Christian. The righteous rejoice in the truth, because Jesus is the truth. Truth never changes, but it takes diligence to love the truth, seek the truth, maintain the truth, and to rejoice in it. An irresponsible person does not care if truth is his or her priority. Love cannot be rightly expressed without truth.

Finally, in verse 7, we read: “Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” What a beautiful description of love these verses bring! Yet, any who refuse to accept the responsibility that is necessary in order to maintain such love are not only irresponsible, but unbelieving.

   Irresponsibility is the result of unbelief; the product of unbelief is sin; and the result of sin is death, or eternal separation from God. Such irresponsibility will result in negligence of one’s salvation. In other words, we are responsible for maintaining our salvation or our life before God. This is only possible as we submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Either He is Lord of all of our life, or He is not Lord at all.

We will be held responsible for what we do with the Son of God in our lives—whether we obey Him or not. Obedience to God, if one is to gain heaven, is not an option. Amazingly, great numbers of people who claim to be Christians truly believe that they can ignore Jesus’ commandments and still possess salvation. God’s Word teaches no such doctrine.

To quote from Bernie Koerselman’s article, “Our Lord,” he writes: “Examples of scriptures that tell how to be saved are, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).  “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).  When the Philippian jailor asked how to be saved, Paul and Silas replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household” (Acts 16:31).  There are no scriptures – not even one – that state that salvation can be had by receiving or accepting or believing or having faith in Jesus as one’s Savior.

At the conclusion of the article, he writes: “Over and over we’ve seen New Testament writers include their readers as they write “our Lord.”  In every case, the writer presumes the readers (those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, the saints, the faithful in Christ Jesus, the holy and faithful brothers in Christ, the church in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s elect, strangers in the world, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood, those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours, those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ) are also those who have received Jesus as Lord.

We have seen the huge preponderance of emphasis in the New Testament upon Jesus as Lord, appearing 618 times, versus Jesus being called Savior only fifteen times.  Likewise, the phrase, “our Lord,” appears seventy-five times, versus “our Savior” which appears only three times when it refers to Jesus (see 2 Timothy 1:10; Titus 1:4, 3:6).  Six additional times it refers to “God our Savior” (See 1 Timothy 1:1, 3; Titus 1:3, 2:10, 3:4; Jude 25). Many salvation passages refer to Jesus as Lord.  None refers to Jesus as Savior.” (http://www.bereanpublishers.com/)

Let us stop and consider where we would all be if God were not responsible. Suppose the Creator decided to be irresponsible to His creation—it would cease to exist. If He had not been responsible to send His Son to die for our sins, we would be lost in our sins and without hope in this world and the next. But, praise His Name, He is responsible, and because He is responsible, we can have the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord. “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” Romans 15:13.”

   The true born again believer will accept his or her responsibility to daily die to self, pick up the cross and follow Jesus. A genuine Christian possesses God’s love for the lost and is obedient to Christ’s commission to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded…” Matthew 28:19, 20a. Any person who could care less about lost souls is lost themselves, and the Spirit of God does not dwell within them.

A responsible Christian will be careful to maintain good health habits (take responsibility for his or her own health); maintain good works; do what is right in any given situation; give to those who invest in their souls, and to the poor, the needy and the orphans (such as the earthquake and Tsunami victims). Such a believer will not hesitate to go the extra mile for people, regardless of the consequences. He or she will always keep his or her promises, and will care for the concerns of others. (See Matthew 5-7; 25:31-46; Romans 12; Philippians 2:4.) To be an irresponsible and lukewarm Christian is to be a person who lacks the fear of the Lord and true faith, for“faith without works is dead” James 2:26:b.

In conclusion, may the Lord help us to exemplify our God by being faithful, loving and responsible in our Christian walk—the salt and the light, standing distinct in this dark world for the glory of God. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” 1 Corinthians 15:58. After all, God will hold us responsible for our response to His Word as revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ.