Personal Responsibility for Action
“we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:10–12, ESV)
One of my first jobs after leaving the military was to work as a project engineer in research and development in a paper converting corporation. One of the projects I had was to have another engineer assist me in determining what to do with a number of rolls that would not function in one of the printing presses. After analyzing the process and the paper, we came to the conclusion that the paper was defective. So, I wrote the report, signed it and turned it over to my boss. He read it and immediately called me into his office and read me the riot act. He was not happy with the conclusion because we decided to write off the cost of the bad paper, which was a lot of money.
As I sat with the boss in this excruciating meeting, he kept asking me if the conclusion was influenced by the other engineer who had more time with the company than I did. He even kept on saying he did not know why I was covering for the other engineer. I could have easily said that the other guy influenced me, but I did not. It was my project, and I wrote the report. I took responsibility for the project, and I made the decision to publish the conclusion.
This illustrates a point. We make decisions and we are personally responsible for those decisions. After getting advice from a multitude of godly counselors, believers need to understand that they are personally responsible for their decisions.
Paul wrote to the Romans regarding making decisions in regard to opinions on questionable areas (Romans 14). These were things like food and drink, and special days (v1-6). In this he gives a sobering statement, “So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.“
His point regards those judging another for holding a varied opinion. This presents the fact that every person will have to give an account for their own decisions in response to these opinions. The word translated “judgment seat,” bema, refers to an elevated step, a tribunal throne (Thayer p31). It is not to be confused with the “great white throne” final judgment of the unbeliever (Rev 20:11-15). Paul is referring to the place where the believer’s works will be Judged whether good or evil (2 Cor 5:10). Some may err in their judgment of others, and some may err in their opinions. Those that are lasting are worthy of reward (2 Cor 3:10-15). This points to the issue of personal responsibility. In other words, we cannot blame others for the decisions we make. We will all give an account for the things we do in the body.
Sometimes we may receive counsel from one person that misses the mark. We must remember that the final decision on what to do with our thoughts and ideas is up to us and we are responsible to the Lord for our choices.
Years ago, after I was called to plant a church in Savannah, we had a glorious start. The entire ministry was focused on reaching dorm students on the campus. Things went exceptionally well, at least for a few years. We grew rapidly and then began experiencing some difficulty. The growth just kind of stopped as each year we would see people leave and a new crop started. Honestly, I became a bit discouraged and was looking for direction. I went to a couple people who sought to encourage me. They suggested that I see one of the longest tenured Baptist pastors in our city who had a large church.
I went to see the pastor of this church, seeking advice. We talked for a while and then he told me that since my undergraduate degree and most of my professional experience was in engineering and manufacturing, that he did not think I would be successful in the pastorate. His view was that technical people were not skilled to do such a task. I was devastated after hearing his comments and contemplated shutting down our little church and going back full bore in engineering. However, after much prayer and contemplation, I realized that I just could not give up the calling to the ministry. I believed with all my heart that the Lord would have me continue the work of the pastorate.
The point to this story is that I was personally responsible for my decision. I was not going to be able at the “bema of Christ” to say, I left the calling because one man gave me such counsel. We will never be able to blame others for the decisions we make. They are ours and we are personally responsible.
So, what are we to do in using the filter, “What do other spiritual people have to say?” We are to select spiritual goodly people who are living as a spiritual person should to help us in our decisions. We should select multiple people like this since in a multitude of counselors there is safety. We must listen to all these counselors without preconceived ideas regarding what we want to do. Then having heard, we must pray to the Lord for wisdom and when completing all seven filters make the best decision that we believe aligns with the will of God. Moreover, we must do so realizing that we are personally responsible for the decision we make.