Accountability and Responsibility

As a father of 4 kids, I feel that one of the most important lessons that I can teach my children is that of accountability. Actions have consequences and as a result they have a responsibility to act and make decisions in such a way that avoids harmful consequences. If I don't follow through on this then I will be guilty of raising children who lack a legitimate moral compass.

Galatians 6:7 makes this point pretty clear: "Don't be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap." If I make dumb decisions then I can expect to suffer the results of those bad decisions. If I cheat on a test, I could get caught. If I booze it up and decide to drive my car, I could easily wreck and injure myself and others. If I slept around, I could catch a disease or risk unplanned (and unprepared) pregnancy. The list goes on.

The problem is that many people don't want to be held accountable for their bad decisions. They simply want others to handle the responsibility for them. I don't want to be political, but in a sense these financial "bail outs" are a direct result of bad business decisions from companies who now expect the government to come to the rescue and save the day. I don't want anyone, or any business for that matter, to suffer but our actions do have serious consequences.

Yet the issue I want to stress isn't political or financial. It's spiritual. I can't change what's going on in our financial markets and I'm barely a speck on the map in the greater context of it. But I must be focused on the accountability that I have before God and for those under my care.

To me it seems that many followers of Christ don't take the words of Galatians 6:7 to heart. Instead, they ignore the conviction of the Spirit and act on impulse anyways, knowing that forgiveness is just a short kneel away. But that's cheap grace and it's offensive to God. Yes there are teens getting pregnant in high school who now will have to be supported by family and government assistance. Yes lawyers will continue to win cases in which they are able to excuse the actions of their clients because somehow society failed them. And yes there will be people who will continue to be bailed out by elderly mommy and daddy for the umpteenth time which in turn enables them to continue in their pattern of destructive behavior. My goal as a father and as a minister is to lead the people under my care to avoid such situations and submit to the lordship of Christ.

But what am I doing about me? Do I understand that I am accountable first to God for my actions and then to those that these actions directly effect? Do I trust God's Word enough to heed its guidance in my daily decision making? Am I willing to take responsibility for the times I mess up instead of trying to pass the buck to someone else? Am I teaching my children these same lessons, or am I enabling them to live lives devoid of discipline and responsibility?

Are you willing - are you ready - to harvest tomorrow the crops that you're planting today?

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