Tuesday, February 11, 2020

"Responsibility" - A Word Not Found in Your Bible

If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say, "I just need my husband held accountable to the responsibilities he has as a husband, father, and spiritual leader in my home," I think I would be a rich man.

For some reason "responsibility" is an oft-used word among evangelicals, particularly among those who seem disappointed with the state of affairs with others they love.

Paul Tripp points out in his marriage series "What Did You Expect" that the problem within a marriage is a "problem within me." However, few people who seek my counsel for their marriage come with the attitude, "Pastor, I have a problem within me. I have a heart problem and need an attitude adjustment. I need some wisdom, help, and encouragement."

Most conversations begin with an articulation of the problems in one's spouse and then, "I need help or advice on how to hold my spouse accountable for fulfilling his responsibilities in marriage."

My friend Paul Young recently wrote an insightful post that needs, in my opinion, wide circulation. Paul loves words, particularly since the Word created the universe with words.

Paul believes that words convey truth and have inherent power.

He points out that responsibility is a word not found in the Bible. It is not listed in Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Tyndale Publisher’s The Word Study Concordance (based on Strong’s Concordance) and Geoffrey Bromley’s 1,356 page Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, or the massive ten volume set of Gerhard Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament.

Responsibility doesn't appear one time in the Bible. Nor do any of its derivations, including the word responsible.

 Hmm. How does this apply to those of us who know Jesus and are in love relationships with other people?

Paul writes:
"Instead of responsibility, the Bible chooses to focus on another action: the ability to respond.  
This is entirely different. Responsibility is as a set of expectations enforced from the outside. It’s a law or code of behavior and often used to define a good person and communicate shame for poor performance.
But a response arises from within. It is dynamic and relational. A responsive person may or may not give, but a responsible person is supposed to give. Because of who we are as human beings indwelt by Jesus (John 14:20), we have an ability to respond, not a responsibility to respond.
This truth has massive implications and is implicitly an invitation to adventures in living.
Remember that today. Your call is not a responsibility. It is your willing and joyful response.
If people could ever stop considering responsibility as something God ordains in love relationships, and instead focus on "my ability to respond," I believe marriages, families, churches, and every other covenant relationship would be transformed.


Scott Shaver said...

Excellent. Brief, straight to the chase.

Tom said...


The God that I worship, is not that concerned with my circumstances, but He is interested in my responses within the circumstances that I find myself in.

Our responses within our circumstances is what defines our character and its strength.

So often our responses within our circumstances highlights our weaknesses and failures as a person.

We tend to shift the responsibility for our circumstances to others in the hope that our responsibility for our circumstances will be overlooked and we can brush them under the carpet, so to speak, and not be impacted by the decisions/responses that we have made as we have stumbled along the way/journey of life.

The abdication of ownership of the responsibilities that we have within our circumstances is the norm for many people where it is easier to blame all those around us with the expectation of changing them rather that engaging in an audit of our own lives because that can be a very painful process when we begin to face the hollow self-centred reality of who we are.

God surprises me when I align my responses with His and what was an overpowering circumstance that would have crippled me into a painful submission of surrendering of who I am in Christ becomes another victory in my sure footed journey walking within His “earth,” that He is revealing to me on a daily basis.


Rex Ray said...


Title: “Responsibility” – A word not found in your Bible” doesn’t apply to my Bible.

“For we are each responsible for our own conduct.” (Galatians 6:5 NLT)

It’s hard to beat Google. :)

Last Sunday night, there was a discussion about men being the ‘leader’ in the home.
I said our mother told us our father was the head of the family, but the neck turns the head. I concluded a family would be better off if husbands did what their wives told them.

That got back to Judy, and she’s ‘holding it over my head’ as I want to drive to Seattle, and she wants to fly.

We’re visiting my twin brother on our birthday. He didn’t remember how old we’re going to be. I said if you put 8 and 8 side by side, that’s our age. He said, “You mean we’re going to be 16?”

He’s good on past memories, but not the present. He’s still paralyzed from the waist down, and has dialysis 3 times a week.

Anonymous said...

“And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”