There’s been a thought that has been on my mind quite a bit these last days. That’s the idea of personal responsibility. This is something that seems to be lacking so much in this new entitlement culture that has been created today. Nothing seems to be of our own doing. The same can be said for our struggles, sins, and wounds. Yes, we have wounds in our lives that can have a drastic effect on lives. Yes, we live in a world that is steadfastly set against our faith and are fighting an enemy in Satan that, as Jesus says, wants to steal and kill and destroy our hearts and pull us further away from God each and every day.
With all of the things that can come against us in this life, it’s so easy to forget our responsibility in it all and that we have a choice in how we choose to respond to struggle. There is a way to respond and although it may not always be easy to do so, sometimes the most difficult decisions and responses are the ones most needed. The key is choosing to take ownership of the problems you’ve faced and bad decisions you’ve made in order to move beyond them in freedom. Not with band-aid solutions, but with real mind and heart renewal.
Dr. Larry Crabb writes in his book, ‘The Marriage Builder,’ “I am unalterably opposed to any line of thinking that undermines the concept of personal responsibility, and I find myself in general agreement with those who insist people are accountable for choosing godly responses to life’s situations.” It’s amazing how true I have found this to become. Many people are stuck in the the feeling of ‘woe is me’ and do not try to discover ways to deal with the their sins and wounds in a responsible and godly way.
I remember being out at Wild at Heart and I was in deep prayer just dealing with my wounds and sins. I had a couple of guys join me to pray over me and the one thing that really stuck to me, going beyond just allowing Jesus into my wounds was the prayer and encouragement to forgive myself for allowing those things to hold me captive for so long. I had to also take ownership of the decisions I made that were done in a way that ran from God rather than going to where He wanted me to go. The Lord was calling for a reinterpretation of everything to understand that this was not just on others, it was on me as well. Actually most of it was, because, although I did not know better, I did not choose to respond in a godly way before.
Crabb goes on to further write that, “Because our human nature is stained in every part by sin, the work of sanctification is no simple matter of ‘don’t do it your way, do it God’s way’…Merely changing what we do will not change who we are. The cure for selfishness and fear that control so much of what we do cannot be reduced to shallow solutions…We need to understand the wrong goals we have set, honestly face how we feel, and deal with our sinful and painful emotions in a way that reflects our confidence in God’s unconditional acceptance.”
Dealing with our emotions in a a way that reflects our confidence in God’s unconditional acceptance. This such a key thing. If we choose to sulk and choose to not move beyond our past sins an struggles, no matter how much we say we believe, it is showing that we do not have confidence in God’s unconditional acceptance. As my pastor says, I’m thankful to have a God that gives second, third, fifth, and tenth chances. We can spend so much of our God’s running from God and not trusting in Him and His grace. We can spend years of our lives blaming everybody else for our struggles and not doing anything to move beyond them.
Let me tell you something…and this comes from real life, personal experience. Taking real ownership of my sins, wounds, and bad decisions and then turning all that to Jesus in full repentance, allowing His full restoration of my heart and mind each day, has given me so much clarity to see that I have a real choice in how I respond to my own junk and everything else in this life. I can either sulk and have a poor me attitude, or I can choose to have a godly response that does not let any of it define me. My identity in Christ now, not in my former self and the same can be said for everyone, if you choose to turn to Him in real faith.
The bottom line is to renew your heart and mind. You have a role to play in altering where your story goes. You can easily choose the path that blames your past and the rest of the world, but you can also choose to truly allow Christ to set you free from that. Is it always easy, NO. You will fight it all the time, but when your thoughts are renewed truly in Christ, you will find it so much easier to not let that junk hold you captive, but rather respond in a godly manner, repent fully, and move forward in real freedom. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I become a man, I did away with childish things.” When we learn to truly renew our minds and the way we respond to struggles, we do away with the habits of the old self that are in spiritual adolescents and move forward with greater maturity.