“But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labour and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.”
– 2 Thessalonians 3:6-9
The key part of growing up (in any sense you care to think of) is the moment that you decide, of your own initiative, when and how to take responsibility and accept consequences.
As tiny children, personal responsibility is alien to us. We’re encouraged not to even consider it—everything that we need is provided to us, and if we even try to do anything for ourselves, our parents firmly put in our place. We’d probably hurt ourselves if they didn’t. As we grow older, this firm hand relaxes somewhat. To a certain extent, our parents allow us to choose our own clothes, our own entertainment, live our own lives. We learn to take responsibility for living our own lives, on a purely practical basis…but how many of us scoot through childhood, adolescence and into adulthood without learning the other essential part of growing up—having the wherewithal to take responsibility for your actions and for your reactions.
That means, essentially, agreeing to be in charge of how you show up to the party. Learning to carry your own water. 1 Corinthians 13:11 says, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” Paul’s not talking about packing the toys away in the attic, or learning to tie your own shoes. This is about the way we speak, the way we understand, the way we think.
The Bible teaches a great deal about personal responsibility, but often we’ve added our own emphasis on the side of that that speaks of the idea of punishment for our failures, and not the equally important consideration of blessing for our successes. Let’s be absolutely clear about this—we are not called to judge one another for a perceived falling short in anything. There is no ministry that exists in the world that has a God-given mandate to condemn.
However, neither is there a requirement for anyone in Christ to support another into blessing, and the capacity for ministry to release people to find and discover God’s heart for themselves does not extend to picking them up and carrying them to a place where they can reach God without standing up.
The responsibility for our lives and our walk in Christ is our own. Our facility to accept and appreciate the heart of God is in our own hands, and in our own heart. The blessings of God are ours—they’re our birthright, our own mess of potage. They are, in the truest sense of the word, our inheritance—and if we are in Christ, living up to the truest sense of what it is to be a Christian, then it’s impossible not to be blessed. But we are answerable for that blessing. We are answerable for anything within our own lives and our own attitudes that stands between us and that blessing. We’re answerable for taking authority over those barriers and obstacles, and we’re answerable if we don’t do that when we need to.
This is not optional. This is not something we can do when we feel like it, or when a certain ministry travels to our town. The conference we’re booked to attend in the fall won’t help us this spring, and it isn’t the featured speaker’s function—in life, or in her ministry—to get us through the winter.
Just as we put childish things away when we became adults, so we have to put away our childish abdication of responsibility for our lives. As we ask the Lord for the specific blessing that might upgrade our lives into a place of His choosing, we must accept and own our part in becoming able, as well as willing, to receive. When we have learned to carry our own water, we will find ourselves in a position to receive showers of blessing.