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What the Bible says about Irresponsibility
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Psalm 90:10-12

It has become increasingly apparent to many who watch our culture that the age of maturity for the present young adult generation has climbed to about 30 years. The age of maturity used to be somewhere between 18 and 21—between graduation from high school and the legal drinking age—but it has steadily risen past college graduation to the threshold of a person's fourth decade of life.

The country has seen far more young adults living with their parents well beyond their college years. These same people are postponing marriage, preferring "relationships" that are free of commitment and responsibility. Employers find them undependable and rootless, willing to trade a steady paycheck for a night on the town.

These young adults grew up under the heaviest media onslaught in history, which continues today. Constant commercials, television programs, and movies have preached the doctrine of fun and irresponsibility throughout their lives. Beer commercials encourage incessant good times in the forms of parties, sporting events, and chic tropical beaches. In the main, TV and movies portray college-aged people as fashionable extroverts, carefree daredevils, or clueless pleasure-junkies. The kids who are serious about their studies and careers are degraded as nerds and out of touch.

The icons of the young adult crowd set the pace. Highly visible athletes bank upon their reputations of enjoying the nightlife, sending the not-so-subtle message that the pinnacle of success is capped by alcohol, dancing, and loud music. Not to be outdone are male and female singers who stretch the bounds of decency in their efforts to promote the counter-culture with its immorality and rebellion. Cinema and television stars of this age group do little to raise standards.

As in times past, we could blame this on reckless teenage rebellion against the standards of their parents. However, this facile excuse does not work in this case. First, these are not teenagers, and second, the standards of their parents in the '60s and '70s were little better! Much of the blame rests with these twentysomethings' parents, who instilled in their children neither a sense of responsibility nor a desire for adult life. In fact, the whole society has been geared to perpetuating the cult of youth.

In ancient Israel, the age of accountability was 20, the year a young man could join the army (Numbers 1:2-3). Levites, who managed the critical duties of the Tabernacle and later the Temple, entered service at the age of 30 (Numbers 4:2-3; 23; 30, 35, 39, 43), which was also the age at which Jesus began His ministry (Luke 3:23). It was expected that at sometime in a man's third decade, he would settle down, marry, begin a family, and function as a member of the community. By the time he was 30, he was considered mature enough to take on the most important tasks of Israelite society.

It could be argued that we live in a different age, but that argument proves vacuous in the end. Modernity has not changed mankind's life as much as we think. We are still born, grow up, marry, reproduce, rear children, age, and die as the ancients did. The big questions of life are still the same. We must still relate to parents, siblings, spouses, children, friends, employers, authorities, and the public as men always have. We still answer to the same God.

As Moses wrote in Psalm 90, our lifespan is still only 70 or 80 years, and that passes by in a flash. If we fail to mature before 30, we have wasted more than a third of our life on things that matter little or detract from God's grand scheme. Paul enjoins us, "See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:15-16). There is no time to waste.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Grow Up!

Related Topics: Immaturity | Irresponsibility


Proverbs 6:6-9

We owe a duty to God and to the affairs of this life. We are to be diligent in our business in providing for ourselves and our families. God, at the very beginning of the Book (Genesis 1-3), when He put Adam and Eve in the Garden, says that they are to dress and keep it, meaning that they are to embellish it, to add to it, and to guard it from deterioration.

Part of our responsibility is to be diligent in doing our job for our employer. We are to be careful not to squander and waste what we have. We are to look ahead and plan to provide for future demands, taking into consideration that there will be emergencies like accidents, illness, death, natural disasters. We are to prepare for such things.

If we fail to do that, it is not showing faith that "God will provide," but rather presumption and irresponsibility in throwing all the responsibility on God while we ignore ours, failing to fulfill what God instructs us to do. There is much to be learned about God's Kingdom and getting prepared for it by carefully using our resources.

The danger lies in our human proclivity to tend toward extremes. The most common is following human nature's inclination to be overly concerned about the things of this life and devoting too much time and energy to it. Jesus points this out in Matthew 6:25, advising us to “take no anxious thought.”

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian and the World (Part Eight)

Luke 12:45-46

The attitude of the evil servant is contrary to the command to be ready. His severe treatment of the other servants is similar to the description of false leaders who ravage the congregation (Acts 20:29-30). Similarly, the dramatic portrayal of the servant's punishment, "cut him in two," stresses the seriousness of his evasion of responsibility. The original statement in Aramaic was probably "he was cut off," which has two implications: to be executed or exiled for sin. With respect to the church, it means being disfellowshipped from associating with church members because of flagrant sin. Luke 12:42-46 emphasizes our responsibility for those placed under our care. On the other hand, verses 47-48 focus on our response to our Master's command.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Faithful and Evil Servants

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)

2 Timothy 3:1-5

The apostle Paul writes that "evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived" (II Timothy 3:13). People today are no different from when Moses wrote the Pentateuch or Paul his epistles, but the occasion to sin, the incentive to do so and thus sin's frequency and intensity are at their highest levels since just before the Flood. In other words, the environment to commit sin more easily grows ever more amenable, and human nature is taking advantage of it. We have been born into—indeed have unwittingly contributed to creating—an environment in which it is exceedingly difficult to remain faithful.

We live in a world in which self-centeredness is being promoted to its greatest extent in human history. Appealing advertising hammers away at us to gratify ourselves: Why wait, why deny ourselves, why sacrifice, why not go along with everyone else? Constantly we hear, "Indulge yourself because you deserve it."

This world always appeals to moral and ethical standards lower than those of the great God and His way of life. In Technicolor with emotion-stirring music, Hollywood "sells" adultery and fornication as acceptable as long as the couple involved are attractive and somehow oppressed—thus "deserving" of a "better" relationship.

War, murder, lying, stealing, coveting, Sabbath-breaking, and idolatry are acts that almost everyone in the world would claim as being wrong, yet most unwittingly commit them to some degree and promote them in our culture. They justify their sin because everybody else is doing it, and they see no good reason why they should not just go along. If they try to swim against the tide, they think they will be taken advantage of.

Not too long ago, a person's word was his bond, and mere handshakes sealed major business agreements. Tales of Abraham Lincoln's honesty over pennies are an almost legendary part of our nation's history. Historians say that faithfulness was such a hallmark of the Roman Republic that not one divorce occurred in its first seven hundred years! But in the last fifty years this nation has seen a calamitous, family-destroying rise in the divorce rate that threatens the very stability of society.

Faithlessness is playing a major role in this destruction. People are without natural affection and traitors to their marital contract. Child abuse is becoming ever more prevalent. Athletes seem to break contracts almost at will. Manufacturers lie about the quality of their products, and workers fudge in the quality of their work.

Faithlessness is rising to its peak because self-centeredness, the father of irresponsibility, is being promoted to its utmost. It is the spirit of this age, but we have cause to resist it by what God has offered us in His revelation. God-centeredness in our lives is the answer to faithlessness and irresponsibility. But God-centeredness is not cheap, and few are willing to pay the price: their lives!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness

Titus 2:1-6

These instructions are an overall exhortation for the various age groups to hold to a sense of duty with regard to their conduct. But none of the instructions given here should be ignored simply because they are not addressed directly to an individual's sex or age group. For example, Paul says "girls should be discreet and modest." Does this mean, then, because it is addressed to girls that a fellow may be as indiscreet and immodest as he wants because he is male? Simply because the fellows are not mentioned does not excuse them from being discreet and modest as well. In an overall sense, God is telling all of us—parents, young people, male, female—to be sane, sober-thinking, serious about our responsibilities, exercising self-control, curbing our passions, and aiming for self-mastery.

There is a proverb that teaches: "He that rules his spirit is better than he who takes a city." Ruling one's spirit involves self-discipline. Self-discipline is willing yourself to do the right, regardless of feelings. It may not be glamorous, but it is the stuff of life.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sanctification and the Teens


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