In our quest for spiritual maturity; in our desire to grow up into Christ, I believe there are many obstacles to overcome and there are many significant issues to tackle. However, I firmly believe that there is one issue, one word in fact, which is at the heart of Christian maturity; one foundation stone which is the key in building a strong faith and the key to our long-term effectiveness in the kingdom of God. That word is RESPONSIBILITY. Responsibility is the key to maturity and the bedrock of a fruitful Christian life.
Some may argue and say Jesus is the foundation of a fruitful Christian life, but I want to be bold enough to suggest that Jesus is not the key to maturity. It is possible to have Jesus in your heart and be born again and still not be mature in Christ and still not be living a victorious, abundant Christian life. If you doubt that statement, just look around. There are thousands of defeated, depressed, self-absorbed, powerless Christians right across this nation and they are all saved – they all have Jesus in their hearts.
The reason they are defeated and beaten up is simply because they have not taken responsibility for their life, regardless of how hard it is, they have not made the right choices. If having Jesus in your life was the key to maturity, then we would all be instantly mature the moment we accepted the gift of salvation. That is clearly not the case.
Responsibility is the key to maturity. What do I mean by that? Well, how about we go right back to when we were children for that is where this truth is seen so clearly. Every parent knows the challenges which face them as they try to train their children to take responsibility for their actions. I can see it now: little Billy is running through the house in hot pursuit of his sister; as they fly around the corner you intercept them. You look at Sally and say, “You know you are not allowed to run in the house.”
She immediately points to Billy and protests, “But Billy made me do it – he was chasing me.” Your attempts to explain that someone can’t chase you if you don’t run appear futile. Sally is convinced it’s all Billy’s fault. You turn to Billy and he is indignant. “It’s not my fault! If she hadn’t run away I wouldn’t have chase her.”
It has been this way almost from the beginning. Remember the Garden of Eden? Just after the forbidden fruit was tasted, God asks Adam, “What have you done?” Adam immediately points to Eve and says, “She made me do it.” When it was Eve’s turn to explain she blamed the serpent. Refusing to take responsibility for our actions is part of our fallen DNA. The most obvious sign of immaturity is the failure to take responsibility for our choices and our life.
I wish I could say that this is something we grow out of but many people don’t. As we get older and smarter, we just get more people to blame. When we were kids we only had our brothers and sisters and friends at School. As we move into our teenage years we start to blame the teachers and the school and our parents, for things that don’t go our way. Then we really ‘grow up’ and learn to blame the Government and the Church or our latest Pastor who failed to meet our needs.
Then if we can’t find someone with skin on to pass the buck to, we blame Satan and say we are “under spiritual attack” from the enemy. More often than not our only enemy is the person in the mirror who made some bad choices and doesn’t want to face the consequences. I am not denying the reality of spiritual warfare, but I am prepared to say that the vast majority of times we come under an ‘attack’ it is the result of our own choices. Satan gets too much credit for our stupidity and bad choices. He will gladly come through the door when we open it – but we seem unable to take responsibility for opening the door in the first place.
Now of course the really brave people even blame God – trying to convince themselves that God is testing their faith in some way when more often than not they are simply reaping what they have sown. Everywhere we look we see and hear supposedly mature adults blaming anyone they can for the consequences of their own choices – refusing to take responsibility for their actions and reactions.
Of course there will be circumstances over which you have no control. There will be situations arise in your life that are really horrible and you never saw coming. But in every situation and in every circumstance of life, you remain in control of your response, your reaction and your attitude.
Friends, in Jesus name, here this: as a Christian, you have the life-changing power of God within you to empower those right choices, but they are still your choices. God is there for you in every situation. This is far more than the power of positive thinking – we have the Holy Spirit to empower our choices. But it is still our choice how we act and react and, more often than not, it will be our choices which determine whether we are the victim or the victor.
So you see responsibility is not really the dreaded ‘R’ word – it is actually a wonderful doorway through which we find maturity in Christ and victory over all that comes against us.