The Importance of Taking Responsibility
The Bible shows many examples of people refusing to take responsibility for their actions. Must Christians take responsibility for their actions?
Taking responsibility is the willingness to give an account for your actions—to willingly bear the burden of what you have, or have not, done. It is being willing to answer for your conduct and obligations.
However, human nature can lead us to refuse to take responsibility for our actions. In fact, when we’re confronted with our mistakes, we’ll often play the blame game and attempt to deflect our responsibility onto someone else.
Examples of refusing to take responsibility
Here are three examples of individuals who deflected responsibility for their errors onto others:
When ancient Israel left Egypt, God led the people to Mount Sinai, where they would receive His laws. Moses went up the mountain to receive the commandments from God Himself. Because Moses was away for so long, the people got weary.
They asked Aaron to make “gods that shall go before us.” Unfortunately, Aaron obliged and made a golden calf for them to worship. He even declared a “feast to the LORD” in honor of the idol (Exodus 32:1-6).
When Moses finally came down and confronted his brother, Aaron refused to take responsibility. Instead, he blamed the people: “You know the people, that they are set on evil” (verse 22). Aaron downplayed his own involvement in the situation, saying, “I cast [the gold] into the fire, and this calf came out” (verse 24).
Though Saul had the appearance of a king, he lacked the character to reign righteously. For example, before going into battle with the Philistines, Saul was instructed to wait for Samuel to come and offer sacrifices to God (1 Samuel 10:8).
But instead of waiting for the prophet, Saul got impatient and hastily performed the sacrifices himself. When confronted by Samuel, Saul offered a litany of excuses for why he did it his way instead of God’s way (1 Samuel 13:8-11).
A similar thing happened when Saul was instructed to completely destroy the Amalekites, yet refused to do it (1 Samuel 15:3, 8-9). Saul again blamed the people instead of taking responsibility for his failure (verse 15).
Pontius Pilate was the Roman governor of Judaea during Jesus’ arrest and trial. At the trial, Pilate desired to release Jesus because he knew Jesus was innocent. However, he relented to the demands of the mob to crucify Jesus. To deny any responsibility for executing an innocent Man, he washed his hands of guilt and placed the responsibility on the people (Matthew 27:22-25; Acts 3:13).
People often see God as being harsh, distant and disconnected from their lives. When things don’t go their way, it’s common for people to blame God.
When we fall short, we are to take responsibility, repent and make changes.Consider the following examples from the Bible:
- After being confronted for eating the forbidden fruit, Adam found a way to blame God for his sin: “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate” (Genesis 3:12).
- After killing his brother, Cain complained that God’s punishment was too harsh (Genesis 4:13).
- When they went into captivity for their sins, the ancient Israelites complained that God was unfair and that their punishment was unjustified (Ezekiel 18:25).
- Job’s wife blamed God for the calamity that fell on them and even tried to convince her husband to curse God (Job 2:9).
For more insight on this, read “Who Is to Blame?”
Christians must take responsibility
God expects Christians to be responsible and self-governing. God has given us His laws, which set boundaries on how we are to conduct ourselves. When we fall short, we are to take responsibility, repent and make changes.
A major part of the repentance process is confessing our sins to God, which essentially means we are taking responsibility for our sins before the God of the universe. To learn more about the importance of confessing our sins, read “What Does It Mean to Confess Your Sins?”
God expects us to take responsibility for our actions—instead of refusing to take responsibility and blaming God (or others) for our mistakes—and He aids those who do (Proverbs 28:13). Every human being will have to give an account for his or her life and actions (Galatians 6:4-5; Hebrews 4:13).
A responsible person is one who is accountable, can be counted on, is trustworthy, upholds his or her word, and is reliable. Responsible people will even make sacrifices for the good of others.
A responsible person is what a spouse looks for, what a family needs, and what makes a strong society and nation.