Individual responsibility

 

Jesus makes a very profound statement in,

 

Matthew 24:12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

 

Here Jesus is letting his disciples know that evil will increase and those individuals who are not truly committed God will grow cold in the love for God and they will find themselves in the middle of sin separated from God. However those who have a genuine faith will remain faithful to the lord until the end. Historically we have thousands upon thousands of Christians who were willing to lay their life down for the cause of Christ. In fact in the catacombs of Roman world contain thousands of names and tombs of those who willing to suffer death than to renounce Jesus as their Lord. They all made this decision individually.

 

One great biblical example of such a person can be found in Acts 7 where Stephen choose to preach the good news about Christ. Even when he was faced by the opposing Jews he stood his ground and defended what he was preaching and ultimately he lost his for his faith. Stephen was our first recorded Christian martyr but certainly not the last.

 

I believe as we look at the history of the church it seems to me that the church was at it strongest on individual level during the 1st and 2nd century. Many Christians during that time had to really rely upon God for their strength because people were out to get them and had no problems torturing those who claimed Jesus as their savior yet the church grew by leaps and bounds. It seems that many times when Christians are under pressure the greater their faithfulness is. However the less challenged Christians the less their faith seems to be.

 

You see whenever things are going well for Godís people they have a tendency to become very lax in their service to God. We certainly know that is true from the many examples that are found in the OT where when things start going good for the people they fall away and do their own thing but when trouble comes their way then they decide to become faithful to God once again.

 

This is one the things the truly concerns me about the individual Christians today living in the United States. Think about how good we have it. We great doctors who cure most of elements, we have all kinds of things that we can entertain ourselves with. We all have a place to live with running water, heating and air conditioning and we have plenty of food. Now from time to time we suffer some persecution verbally or mentally very rarely does a person every face any type of physical persecution for being a Christian in the United States. Now donít get me wrong I love these conveniences just a much as anybody else but many times these conveniences make us less of a servant to God.

 

The reason I believe this to be the case is because the more we provide for ourselves and take care of our own needs the less we find ourselves relying upon God or caring as much if others rely upon him.

 

This is why it is important that we as individuals take upon ourselves to make sure that we are not allowing our society and its mentality to cripple us into being less than what we should be for God. Now we can certainly help each other out in staying closer to God but we must never forget that ultimately we are responsible for ourselves because no other individual can save us no more than we can save them. This is why Paul says,

 

Galatians 6:5For each one shall bear his own load.

 

Philippians 2:12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;

 

As individuals we should be doing our best to serve God and learn new ways of bringing glory and honor to him. Unfortunately there are some Christians today who do not believe in this concept. Instead to them all Christianity is about is coming to church once or twice a week and half heartedly trying to live a moral life. They will have one foot in the world and one foot on the side of God and they are perfectly satisfied being there. This is what we would call being complacent or the Bible likes to lukewarm and we all know what Jesus said about those who were lukewarm.

 

Revelation 3:16 "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.††

 

I believe there are many Christians in the church today that falling short of their potential because they are moving toward being lukewarm. The church today is great need for workers who are willing to do their part for Godís kingdom. What Jesus said almost 2000 years ago is still true today. He said,

 

Matthew 9:37"The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.

 

One preacher made this comment, ďThe church where I preach is filled with willing people Ė about 10 percent are willing to work, and the other 90 percent are willing to let themĒ. Now you will find similar results at just about any congregation you look at. There is always a small group of Christians who really get serious about laboring for the lord but that should not be the case. Instead every Christian that makes up the body of Christ should be willing to what their capable of. You see on one hand God does not want us to be complacent and on the other hand he doesnít expect us to do more than our ability he just wants us to do what we can. One of favorite stories in the Bible that illustrates this point very will in found in,

 

Mark 14:3 And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head.4 But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, "Why was this fragrant oil wasted?5 "For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor." And they criticized her sharply.6 But Jesus said, "Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me.7 "For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always.8 "She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial.9 "Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her."

 

Here we see Jesus recognizing this individual women for doing what she could. You see Jesus knew the intent of her heart and because of selfless deed she would forever be remembered as the women who did what she could by anointing Jesus with the expensive perfume.

 

Another thing should bring great comfort to us as individuals is the fact the God does not show partiality nor does he compare us to others. God knows each and every single one of us by name and by our hearts. He knows what each of us is capable of doing and he knows when we fail to do things that we should doing. But you God doesnít care what we look like our how smart we are and he doesnít have some comparison chart out where he says well Bob had 3 times as much for me as ole Jane over here. He doesnít keep score but what he does do is he look at each individual and what that are capable of doing. If you have more abilities I believe God expect more out you than someone who has less. We need to realize that we all different abilities and God just wants us do what we can.

 

Keeping this thought in mind. It also important that we as individuals donít compare ourselves to others. The apostle Paul says this.

 

2 Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

 

Notice Paul is unwise to compare yourself to others. You see whenever we start comparing ourselves to others it can produce 3 results.

 

1. If we look at someone who is doing less than us we might become haughty and start thinking how great we are because we are doing so much more than this other Christians. This can also make us think that we are doing is great and that we do not need to do any more when the fact may be that we are only living up to half of our potential for the Lord.

 

2. If we look at someone and we see that we are pretty equal with what they are doing again we fool ourselves into thinking that we are doing what we can when in reality the person we compared our self to may only have half the abilities that we do.

 

3. If we look at someone that is doing more than us and we cant fathom the thought of doing the kind of things they do this will leave us feeling like we are not worthy and will many times lead this individual throwing up their arms and giving up.

 

This is what can possible happen if we try to compare ourselves to others. So donít do this because doing so will take away from your individual responsibility as a Christian.

 

The next thing I want to point is sin of omission and commission. This simply means that we can sin by actively engaging in something wrong and we can sin we fail to do something right.

 

James 4:17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

 

You might have some Christians who are do very well of keeping themselves from participating in wrong doings but some of these same Christian may not do so well when it comes to doing thing that they should. Did you know that just about every parable that Jesus taught on judgment condemns those who didnít do the right thing rather than those who were involved in wrong doing. Lets take a look a just a few.

 

Our first one comes from,

 

Matthew 25:1 "Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.2 "Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.3 "Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them,4 "but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.5 "But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.6 "And at midnight a cry was heard: 'Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!'7 "Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.8 "And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.'9 "But the wise answered, saying, 'No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.'10 "And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.11 "Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us!'12 "But he answered and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.'13 "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

 

This is great parable that teaches us that we are individual responsible for being prepared to meet our lord. You see these 5 foolish virgins sin was that they were notprepared. That had not taken the necessary steps to have plenty of oil in their lamps. You see they failed to do what was necessary. So if you want to lose you soul all you have to do is do nothing. Be a Christian a not a do nothing religion.

 

Our second parable that teaches that it a sin to fail to do what is right is very next parable after the one we just read.

 

Matthew 25:14 " For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.15 "And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.16 "Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents.17 "And likewise he who had received two gained two more also.18 "But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord's money.19 "After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.20 "So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, 'Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.'21 "His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'22 "He also who had received two talents came and said, 'Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.'23 "His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'24 "Then he who had received the one talent came and said, 'Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.25 'And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.'26 "But his lord answered and said to him, 'You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed.27 'So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.28 'Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.29 'For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.30 'And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

 

Notice this one talent men didnít do anything wrong with the money nor did he lose the money that he was given. So his sin was not for doing something wrong. His sinned because he failed do something with his talent. How many times have we been blessed with something from God and then we fail to use it. Well this is was this man was doing and when it came time for the master to come back we can see very clearly that this one talent servant was not pleasing to his master at all and the same is will be true for Christians who simply bury their blessing and do nothing.

 

Another great example of this is found in what Jesus says about the separation of the goats from the sheep.

 

Matthew 25:31 " When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.32 "All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.33 "And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.34 "Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:35 'for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;36 'I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.'37 "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?38 'When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?39 'Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'40 "And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'41 "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:42 'for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink;43 'I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.'44 "Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?'45 "Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'46 "And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

 

Again we see the concept ofpeople sinning because they did not do that which was right. Jesus make the comparison between those who helped others by feeding or clothing them to those who did nothing and to those who did nothing they were going to separated from God forever and everlasting punishment.

 

We could look at the parable of the rich farmer who only thought of himself and building barns for his crops. He failed to help others and was going to lose soul. Or we could look a the story Jesus told about the rich and Lazarus where the rich man failed to even share the crumbs from his table with Lazarus. Now their nothing wrong being rich his sin was not doing what he should of done a servant of God.

 

So as you can see there is a great need for each individual Christian to realize that we all have individual responsibilities for the serving the Lord and that we can sin from doing things wrong and we can sin for not doing thing that we should. We have also learned that we should not compare ourselves to others and that God just wants us to do what are capable of doing and we need to remember that he knows our heart and what we are capable of doing. If we makes excuses of why cannot serve God we might fool our brothers in sisters in Christ but we cannot fool God himself.

 

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

 

So I ask you this morning, are you living up to your potential in your service to God or are you being lukewarm? If today was the day that you had to stand before Jesus at the judgment day would he well done good and faithful servant or would he say depart from me lazy and wicked servant?

 

As you examine yourself and your service to God and you see that you are not living up to your potential then start making the changes in your life today that will make it possible for you say with all confidence I have done what I could.