The Individual II

The Individual II

Matthew 7:4-5

Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Many who read these verses would say that Christ is telling us to not judge others and their actions.  I agree.   But I had a different train of thought when reading these verses today, and it’s the same thought I’ve had throughout the New Testament and the Bible.  It’s the teaching and emphasis of the individual and the individual’s self responsibility. Continue reading

Personal Responsibility

Personal Responsibility

James 1:13-15

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.  But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

What is James talking about in these verses?  He is talking about personal responsibility.

He is telling us that temptation and sin are of our own doing.  We are not puppets and God is pulling the strings.  We are all free individuals able to make our own decisions and choices.  And with freedom comes responsibility, personal responsibility. Continue reading

Sow For Yourself

Sow For Yourself

Hosea 10:12-13

Sow for yourselves righteousness;
    reap steadfast love;
    break up your fallow ground,
for it is the time to seek the Lord,
    that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.

You have plowed iniquity;
    you have reaped injustice;
    you have eaten the fruit of lies.
Because you have trusted in your own way
    and in the multitude of your warriors,

 When Hosea became a prophet, the first thing he was instructed to do by God was to make a prostitute his wife.  He was then told to have children with his adulterous wife.  This was to signify how Israel had whored after false Gods, seeking pleasures of the flesh over the love of righteousness. These two verses are another example of self responsibility and the individual having to bear the consequences of their actions. Continue reading

No Bank Account For Good Deeds

No Bank Account For Good Deeds

Ezekiel 33:17-20

“Yet your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just,’ when it is their own way that is not just. When the righteous turns from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it. And when the wicked turns from his wickedness and does what is just and right, he shall live by this. Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways.”

These verses speak to me on a couple of levels.

First, the idea of justice.

Ezekiel talks about the Israelites complaining that God’s justice, or the balance of the universe, doesn’t fit their idea of justice.  I’ve written before about this and the fact that my idea of justice and someone else’s idea of justice are probably two different things.  And so the Israelites say in verse 17, what most of us say today when something happens to us, or others, that we don’t understand.  We say, “There is no justice” and then question God and even God’s existence.  We do this on the basis of things not going the way we thought they should go.  We look to blame something outside of us for what happened.

God answers these petty accusations very effectively:

…when it is their own way that is not just.

Ezekiel and God are talking about personal responsibility, and each of us owning up to and realizing that we are responsible for our actions.  We must face up to the fact that we are responsible for the consequences of our actions.  The perceived injustice of the world, is the injustice we have created and served upon ourselves.

God does not inflict grief upon man.  Man inflicts grief upon man.

In verses 18 and 19, Ezekiel speaks of God’s balance. When the righteous do evil they suffer their grief.  There are no mulligans, or a reserved bank account of good deeds to excuse the evil act and eliminate the consequences.  And vice versa.

Second, each act stands on its own.

This is the third time I have written about this.  This truth is conveyed a number of times in the writings of Ezekiel.

Each act, each decision has its own consequence based on the act.  Every act and decision stands on its own.  If a plane makes 1000 trips without incident, that will not eliminate a catastrophe if the pilot makes a bad decision.  The 1000 safe and non-eventful flights do not somehow make the laws of physics and aerodynamics over look this lapse in judgement.  The consequences of a bad decision will be experienced.

Every action stands on its own.  That is what God and Ezekiel are telling us in verse 20.

I will judge each of you according to his ways.

This is personal responsibility. They are telling us that each of us stands alone, every one of our actions stands alone.  If you do twenty wonderful and righteous things during the course of the day and then do one evil act, the twenty do not cancel out the one.  The consequences of the evil act will still be suffered.

God and Ezekiel are letting us know we are responsible for our actions.  Each and every action is judged by itself.

© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Stands On Its Own – Part II

Stands On Its Own – Part II

Ezekiel 33:10-12

“And you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, Thus have you said: ‘Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we rot away because of them. How then can we live?’ 11 Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?

“And you, son of man, say to your people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him when he transgresses, and as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall by it when he turns from his wickedness, and the righteous shall not be able to live by his righteousness when he sins.

These verses help solidify my belief that the Bible is a manual for the individual. In my previous post, Stand On Its Own, I wrote about these verses, but today I wanted to write some more as I feel strongly about the individual.   Verses like these speak of the individual and how the individual is responsible for their actions.  Although each day circumstances beyond our control are thrown at us, how we respond to those circumstances is what we can control.  Our response is what makes us who we are. Continue reading

Bear The Yoke

Bear The Yoke

Lamentations 3:28-30

Let him sit alone in silence,
    for the Lord has laid it on him.
Let him bury his face in the dust—
    there may yet be hope.
Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,

    and let him be filled with disgrace.

This post is a follow-up to my post, Waiting For You.  In that post I wrote about verses 25 through 27 which precede the above verses.  I wrote about the long, never-ending journey of seeking the Lord, and how you find the Lord bit by bit each day.  The Lord is always there waiting for us to find God.  The post also referenced, “bearing the yoke” of consequences of your decisions, particularly your bad decisions.  It is better to suffer and learn in your youth when you have time to recover.

In these next three verses, 28 through 30, Jeremiah talks about how bearing the consequences of our actions, we must look inward, take our share of blame and learn.

Let him sit alone in silence,
    for the Lord has laid it on him.

God has given us a conscience and we know what is right and what is wrong.  We have the inherent ability to distinguish between good and evil.  Some of us just choose to ignore it, or allow our hearts to be filled with worldly desires, and ignore the yoke of the consequences.  But those who bear the yoke realized they have wronged and sinned, hurting others and themselves.

To seek righteousness and improve as human beings we must sit alone and place the blame on our shoulders, just as a yoke is placed on an oxen.

Circumstances vary and are outside of our control, but how we react, what we do, is our responsibility.  We can share with others our mistake and seek solace, but the consequences are ours to sit alone in silence and ponder.

Let him bury his face in the dust—
    there may yet be hope.

When we take on this responsibility for our actions and sins, we feel hurt and sorrow that causes us to double over on the inside.  When we let the pain of our sins sink in that deep, we then realize we must correct ourselves and take control of our actions. We must seek God in our heart, find righteousness, and try not to sin again.

We will sin again, but as we learn from the suffering of the consequences there is hope.  We will recover and learn.  We will learn how to avoid sin.  The more you live your life, the more you seek God and righteousness, the better you become at finding God and righteousness.

Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,
    and let him be filled with disgrace.

Again Jeremiah is lamenting to us to take responsibility for our sins.  Do not shift the blame.  You are responsible for your actions and must learn that the only person who can bring disgrace upon you is you.  No one else can force you to sin. You control you and are responsible for you.  This is the yoke that God has placed on each of us.  Your mistakes and sin are your burden, placed there by you and only you can lift them.

Sit alone in silence, bury your face in the dust, and realize the one who strikes your cheek in disgrace is you.  Then you will begin to learn.

© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Personal Responsibility

Personal Responsibility

James 1:13-15

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.  But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

What is James talking about in these verses?  He is talking about personal responsibility.

He is telling us that temptation and sin are of our own doing.  We are not puppets and God is pulling the strings.  We are all free individuals able to make our own decisions and choices.  And with freedom comes responsibility, personal responsibility. Continue reading