I keep thinking lately about what it means to take responsibility for our actions.
When we blame others for our choices, it not only keeps us from maturing and growing in areas we need to, but it hinders having whole, healthy relationships.
If I try to deceive you, then say I had to do it because of something you did……I am basically letting someone else make my choices. And it is a choice. I CHOOSE to lie or not. No one makes me. And if I blame you, then you can never really trust me. Our relationship becomes broken and trust is very difficult to repair.
It is not always easy to be honest with people, but honesty is about who you are, not who the other person is. Either you are honest….or you’re not. It has nothing to do with what anyone else does. I picture myself standing before God when I die and He says, “Why did you tell that lie?” Will I answer, “I had to God! She is so hard to talk to!” No…..that won’t fly with Him….he sees what is in my deepest heart and there will be no point in trying to hide the truth from Him.
“Therefore, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.” Romans 14:12
It’s not just about honesty, there are plenty of ways we can create a problem then blame someone else. No one makes us gossip, be rude, swear, hate, lash out, lie, or slander. Your kids don’t make you yell, your husband doesn’t make you nag, the car tailgating you doesn’t give you road rage.
Let’s be real….we all mess up occasionally. We are human! I recently found myself gossiping about a friend. I stopped and repented to the person I was talking to and then called my friend to confess, apologize and ask forgiveness. Yes, she had done something really difficult for me to handle and I was struggling with how to deal with it. But when I was asking for advice, my description of her actions went too far. I could feel myself crossing the line. Ugh!
When you do something that deep inside you know you shouldn’t, apologize and take responsibility. I don’t get to blame my friend for being too difficult to talk to directly. I chose that. And I now choose to turn from the fear of being wrong and challenge myself to be a person who faces hard things and doesn’t use excuses for bad behavior.
“Doing wrong is like a joke to a fool, but wisdom is pleasure to a man of understanding.” Proverbs 10:23
We choose who we will be, not based on how people treat us or what they tell us we are, but on our own decisions based on God’s Word. God says that if I do foolish things, I am a fool. Not, unless someone provokes you then it’s OK.
But the good news is that I can always turn that around! I am not stuck and I don’t have to wait for anyone else to change before I can become wise or truthful or righteous.
“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” Matthew 12:36
What is so amazing is that God built in natural discipline when we take responsibility instead of blaming others. The pain of having to fess up and repent will stick with me and I will not likely gossip again any time soon. But if I never apologized and decided that it was OK because she was too hard to deal with, then I would undoubtedly slip further and further down that slippery slope until no one would be able to trust me and I would never understand why.
“Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.” Proverbs 26:12
When I let my husband know that my nagging is my own struggle and don’t give him excuses for it, he can trust me not to get offended the next time he feels like he needs to point out that I am being overly critical. I want him to trust me. Wherever I am contributing to our problems, I want to change myself no matter what he does.
So, who do you want to be? Someone who is stuck because of how other people treat you? Or someone who can have victory in any circumstance?
If you choose truth, in my experience even if you are humble, there will be people who won’t want that kind of relationship. They will leave. They can’t take the pressure that comes from being responsible for their own decisions, so they flee. It’s sad and painful, but in the same way that you are responsible for your choices, they are responsible for theirs. Don’t let it stop you from saying yes to Christ and no to sin.
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” John 15:18
I am going to continue to challenge myself to pay close attention and when I sense that I am crossing a line….stop and take responsibility instead of making excuses. I have no doubt this will bring up some hard lessons for me. While I have made it my goal to be honoring to God’s Word, if I am not purposefully listening to the conviction of the Holy Spirit I can tend to let little things pass and before I know it they can turn into big issues.
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
I will be praying for you also…..we need all the help we can get to walk this road of humanness. Once we see where we need to make changes, there is grace waiting for us and mercy to see ourselves for who we are…..sinners saved by grace for His works.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” Ephesians 2:10