I Am Responsible

The following post comes from an article I wrote for my church’s weekly newsletter but because it was related to the series I have been writing on Ephesians, I thought those who have been following my thoughts might appreciate this piece.

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As a church family, we have been exploring Paul’s description of the mission of God. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul will set forth what God has done for us in Christ in the first three chapters, in chapters 4 through 6 Paul will list a patchwork of virtues, dispositions, habits, and actions, God seeks in us because of what he has done for us in Christ.

These virtues, dispositions, habits, and actions will cover everything from how we treat one another, including those closest to us, our families, but it will also deal with values as personal as our sexual ethics, how we choose to use our language, or how we express our anger.

One thing remains clear: while we cannot save ourselves–this is the work of God–we are responsible for what we do with the salvation God has given us.

Responsibility may well be the missing virtue of our time. We always seem to have an excuse, a rationalization, or someone to blame so that we don’t have to feel the full force of personal responsibility. We become so good at (accustomed to?) using such tactics that we sometimes are unaware that we are using them.

M. Scott Peck, in The Road Less Traveled, attributed much of what we call mental illness today to people’s mishandling of responsibility. According to Peck, neurotics take too much responsibility (often over other people), while psychotics take too little (even over their own lives). I’m sure Dr. Peck would add that things are more complex than this, but he is on to something.

Still my mental health is related to the level of personal responsibility that I take over things that are truly mine. As the Serenity Prayer reminds us, there are some things you can’t change and some things you can. May God give us power to discern between the two.

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