Saturday, February 28, 2009

Can I Be Held Responsible for My Irresponsibility?

Based on Nehemiah 1-2

As you read through the beginning of Nehemiah’s story (check the Table of Contents in your Bible or go to
to find it), you find a man who holds a responsible, trusted position, serving the king.

Kings and queens today often hold symbolic, ceremonial positions and responsibilities. Kings in Nehemiah’s day held absolute control over their people and were often served by slaves from the nations they had conquered. This was Nehemiah’s case.

Nehemiah was a Jewish man serving in the court of a foreign nation that had taken God’s people captive. When God moved in the heart of Cyrus (see 2 Chronicles 36:20-23 and Ezra 1:1-10) to allow the Jews to return to their homeland after their captivity, Nehemiah was one of the Jews who remained in captivity. Yet, when Nehemiah hears about the state of Jerusalem and its people, his heart is overwhelmed with the news of their need.

Nehemiah begins to pray and look for opportunities to become part of the solution for his brothers and sisters in need. He takes his personal concern and grief to the Lord, humbly seeking God’s intervention.

Although he has no pertinent skill or expertise to offer, Nehemiah makes himself available to God, willing to be used however God sees fit. While he waits for God to make the next step clear, Nehemiah devotes himself to prayer and to serving the master who has the authority to release him or keep him serving in his current position.

Where is God calling you to make yourself available to respond to the needs of others?

Throughout the Bible, we see stories of men and women remaining faithful in their current life circumstances, seeking God in those circumstances, and being willing and ready to respond when God calls.

We also read stories of people who used their current circumstances as excuses to avoid God’s call.

Which group do you fit into?


1. answerable or accountable, as for something within one's power, control, or management (often fol. by to or for): He is responsible to the president for his decisions.

2. involving accountability or responsibility: a responsible position

3. chargeable with being the author, cause, or occasion of something (usually fol. by for): Termites were responsible for the damage.

4. having a capacity for moral decisions and therefore accountable; capable of rational thought or action: The defendant is not responsible for his actions.

"responsible." Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 14 Feb. 2009.>.

Scripture is clear that both men and women were created to respond to God’s call and response + able for God’s world. The fact that God gave us this responsibility means that we are accountable to God for how we use our response + ability to respond to the needs around us.

How does this definition of responsibility as “response + ability” change your perspective on what it means to live responsibly?

Are you pursuing God’s direction in living response + ably?

Redeeming Response + Ability

Sin has twisted our understanding of responsibility.

We may refuse to accept responsibility for our lives, and play the victim.

We may twist our understanding of responsibility and try to control things we were never meant to control, like God or other people.

We may run from responsibility, shoving it off toward others and burdening them with false responsibility and guilt.

We may hand over our responsibility to others, choosing to blame them for our inability to live the lives God calls us to live.

We may consciously or unconsciously take on more responsibilities than God asks us to take on, over-scheduling our lives, making us ineffective, and keeping us from being response + able to God’s voice when He speaks.

Which of these distorted concepts of responsibility tempts you or describes you?

Response + Able to God

God, as the one to whom we are first and ultimately response + able, has the right to determine the area and extent of our response + ability. When we pursue God and respond to our circumstances by depending on Him, our responses reveal His life-giving power.

For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord… For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. It is written:
" 'As surely as I live,' says the Lord,
'every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will confess to God.' "

So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.—Romans 14:7-12

What do you need to give up in order to live response + ably from God’s perspective?

Ultimately, in the midst of the people and needs that call for our attention, God is the one who deserves first attention, sets our priorities, and gets the final word. Are you asking Him to show you where He wants you live response + ably?

This is what the LORD says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”Isaiah 48:17

For whom and for what has God already given you response + ability? Nehemiah continued to be response + able where he was until God’s power and timing opened the door for him to do more. Centuries later, Paul’s words echo Nehemiah’s mindset and role model for us

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him…Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.—Colossians 3:15-17, 23, 24

What longing to make a difference is God placing in your heart as you pursue Him?

What obstacles are you trusting God to overcome so that you can live your life response + ably?

To view the worship celebration related to this Next Step, visit

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