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Bible verses about Personal Responsibility
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Matthew 25:24-27

The tragedy of the story and the focus of the parable is the man who hid his talent. From him we probably learn the most. First, the talent was not his in the first place; it was on loan. Second, Christ shows that people bury their gifts primarily out of fear. Third, the whole parable illustrates that regarding spiritual gifts, one never loses what he uses. That is a powerful lesson: If we use the gifts that God gives us, we cannot lose! The one who was punished never even tried, so God called him wicked and lazy. His passivity regarding spiritual things doomed him.

Comparing this parable to the Parable of the Ten Virgins, we see a few interesting contrasts. The five foolish virgins suffered because they let what they had run out. This servant with one talent apparently never even used what he had. The virgins failed because they thought their job was too easy, while this servant failed because he thought it was too hard. On many fronts they seem to be opposites.

The servant's true character comes out in his defense before the master and in the master's condemnation. In verse 24 he claims, "Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed." That is a lie! Not having this belief, the other two servants immediately go to work, never suggesting that they think their master is harsh and greedy.

The wicked servant justifies his lack of growth by blaming it on God. "It was too hard, Lord." He accuses God of an insensitive and demanding evaluation. That is why Christ calls him wicked. He calls God a liar and accuses the master of exploitation and avarice. If he did work, he says, he would see little or none of the profit, and if he failed, he would get nothing but the master's wrath.

The master then asks, "Why didn't you at least invest my money so that I could receive interest?" The servant, in his justification and fear, overlooks his responsibility to discharge his duty in even the smallest areas. Blaming his master and excusing himself, this servant with one talent fell to the temptations of resentment and fear. Together, the two are a deadly combination.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church, and Laodiceanism


 

John 2:7-8

Jesus shows us that God is pleased to use human instruments in performing the wonders of His grace. He did nothing in changing water to wine that was unnecessary for Him to do. The servants filled the vessels and took the wine to the master of the marriage feast. There was no reason for Christ to do this kind of work for them. Instead, He did what no one else could do. This principle applies to His work in us: He does not do things for us that we can do ourselves. Further, He will not perform miracles if they would destroy industriousness or encourage laziness and irresponsibility. Miracles do not excuse us from carrying out our responsibilities.

Likewise, faith without works is dead (James 2:14-19). It is an honor to work with God in faith to accomplish His will, and if done with the right attitude, no one ever regrets his involvement in that service. God's commands are usually not easy to do, but they are possible—and necessary to do—if we want His blessing. In light of this principle, Paul states, "If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat" (II Thessalonians 3:10). This miracle prods all who follow Christ to grow in faith.

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Water Into Wine (Part Two)


 

John 21:22

From this direct response of Jesus, we can see that God expects each person to take personal responsibility in responding to the events of his own life and not to look with envy, bitterness, or self-righteousness at what He requires of others. Each must learn to operate within his faith. God deals with each of us individually, preparing us for what He wants for His Kingdom. In a context that applies to the entire nation of Israel among all other peoples of the earth, Deuteronomy 8:18 contains an element of this same principle: "And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day."

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sovereignty of God: Part Two


 

Romans 3:22-28

This does not exclude our responsibility to work for the purpose of sanctification. Works are not for justification but for sanctification. Works do not save us, but they are essential for transformation! To put it bluntly, we have to practice being God; we have to learn to live as God lives. Is that not how one becomes proficient at something?

God shows in many places in the Bible that He is pleased with our obedience. Our works do not save us, but they please Him (see Hebrews 13:16; Colossians 3:20; I John 3:22; etc.). He is so happy when we work at sanctification because they assist in the transformation process.

Parents ought to understand this. We are pleased by the stumbling efforts of our child to please us. So is God! He looks on our motives, intentions, and the principles involved in what His child is doing. He does not just look at the quantity or the quality—He looks at us as His children, who are trying to imitate Him.

Sanctification is absolutely necessary to prove to God our righteous character and belief in Jesus Christ.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 9)


 

Romans 12:3-8

These six verses are all tied together by humility—that one should not think of himself more highly than he ought. God has put us each in the body as it pleases Him, so we should not think that we, as, say, the toe are better than the knee because the toe cannot do the knee's job. God thinks of the toe just as highly as He does of the knee, but if He has put us as a toe, why not in faith do the job of a toe because that is what God wants us to be? If He had wanted us to be a knee, He would have put you in the body as a knee, but He made us to be a toe, so be happy as a toe! Do a toe's work in faith!

Paul tells us to think soberly, logically, seriously, that as God has dealt to each a measure of faith, that we in faith can consider our place in the church and deal with it. So, whatever we are to do, do it! Do it with all the gifts and skills that God has given—but do not try to do another's job. It is his job to do diligently, not ours. God put us in the body to do a specific job, our job not his, otherwise He would have given us his job!

If we have been given the job to exhort, then we should exhort. If it is our job to minister and serve others, serve—but do not take another's job to prophesy. Paul is saying, "In lowliness of mind, be content where you are, because obviously God has put you there for a reason. If you do the job that God has given to you, you are fulfilling His will." The church, then, can be united because the members are not competing over each other's responsibilities.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Psalm 133


 

2 Peter 3:17-18

Verse 18 makes it clear that there is a contrast. Peter says, ". . . but grow." Verse 17 is a warning: ". . . beware lest you also fall . . . being led away with the error of the wicked."

The command is to grow, so if the contrast that he is establishing in our minds is to be met, the positive part of the instruction is that effort has to be made in order to grow. If we are not making an effort to grow, the only alternative is to go in reverse. We begin to degenerate if we do not make an effort to grow.

II Peter 3:17 (Moffatt) Now, beloved, you are forewarned: mind you that you are not carried away by the error of the lawless and so lose your proper footing;

My attention is on this verse 17 where he says, "mind you," rather than "beware." He turns it into something that is positive. "Beware" could mean to just look around to make sure that one is safe. But "mind you" says, "Hey, turn your attention to focus on this!"

We can see from the combination of these two verses that effort must be made to produce growth or we will likely fall into the error of the wicked. In other words, doing nothing regarding our spiritual responsibilities is akin to doing nothing regarding our physical responsibilities pertaining to our physical health.

So we are faced with a choice. We are forewarned. Something has to be done; we cannot just stand still. Nor can we just drift. Some effort has to be made to ensure growth takes place.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Titus 2:11-14


 

 




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