A growing problem — prevalent in this world around us — is found too often in God's Church today...
A MOMENT of inattention behind the wheel suddenly results in a tragic accident snuffing out the lives of several people. Deep and worsening financial troubles trigger a violent husband-and-wife argument. A child regularly "forgets" to do his chores around the house and gets his assignments in late at school. Are these just unrelated incidents in everyday life? No!! These are typical symptoms of a common character disease called IRRESPONSIBILITY! It is an attitude of mind that manifests it — self constantly in the world around us, and is all too often present in the Church of God today! It is a sin that could keep you out of the Kingdom of God, or could at least greatly subtract from your eternal reward!
Why We're Guilty
Let's be honest about this matter of responsibility. Many times in our lives, in many different ways, we have failed to properly execute the responsibilities — whether small or great — we've been given. Stop and think a moment. When is the last time you just plain forgot something — forgot to buy something at the store, pay a bill, mail a letter, meet someone, or arrange for something? Chances are it hasn't been too long ago. And whether the incident was painfully embarrassing or quickly forgotten, it demonstrates a human weakness that must be overcome! Why even in God's Church must this problem occur and reoccur with discouraging regularity — sometimes with heartbreaking results? We in God's ministry have seen this one character fault — irresponsibility — contribute to broken homes, personal and business financial woes, unruly children, unhappy parents, and many other BIG problems. You may feel this is a little, minor matter, brethren, but Jesus Christ very plainly shows in His Word it is not! The answer to why we face this problem is found in I Corinthians, Chapter One. Turn there in your own Bible, and begin reading in Verse 26 where our calling — yours and mine — is described: "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things [or foolish ones, as is implied by the original Greek) of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things [or weak ones] of the world to confound the things which are mighty...." Yes, God says in His Word that we have been the foolish and weak ones of this world, not the high and mighty. And this is why many of our actions — even since coming into God's Church — in our families, on our jobs, with our finances, etc. have been foolish and weak. These shortcomings and weaknesses which began in our youth — and even before through heredity — carry over into our adult lives and cause us to have attitudes and actions that are not dependable, trustworthy, reliable, or responsible. We are today just the product of so many yesterdays — if we've lacked these important character traits in the past and have made no effort to overcome it, then we are still irresponsible. But that is no excuse! Christ commands us, "Become ye therefore PERFECT!" (Matt. 5:48.)
Let's get down to some clear-cut, concrete cases where you may be guilty. First of all, let's take a look at the family finances. What is the financial picture like in your home? Good, sound, well-regulated? A smoothly functioning budget with savings in the bank? If so, congratulations! You have shouldered a very important responsibility. If not — and this applies to too many of us! — you have failed in this responsibility. Finances, whether in the home or business, demand a continual, diligent execution of responsibility. They are a good yardstick by which to measure your character. How do you measure up? The tragedy is that most of us have had little or no financial training in the past from our parents or anyone else. Most of us "spent it" about as fast as we "made it." We never LEARNED financial responsibility. And what a toll this takes in later life! What unhappiness it causes families all over this land — even leading to divorce in many cases. Whose fault IS it! Though in most homes today the woman is the financial manager, it should not be so! The husband as head of the home (Eph. 5:23) should shoulder this vitally important responsibility! If it is not that way in your home, chances are you have an upside-down home. This is the man's job, and too many men are failing to perform it. It is very difficult for a wife to deeply respect her spouse if he can't keep the family's financial ship on an even keel. How many bitter arguments would be forever ended if the "Mr." would only do this. And once tackled, thought out, and planned, a budget can be fun! It's really a good feeling to know that the money is going where it ought to go. Most families have talked about having a budget for years. Why talk about it? Why not do something about it! Then wives have the responsibility of sticking to it, and almost every woman would cheerfully admit she would much rather stick to the budget her husband made, than try to manage things all by herself. She wasn't made to handle this task — to manipulate and control the income and the outgo. YOU WERE, MEN!! Don't fail in this. Jesus Christ says, "If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon (that is, riches or money), who will commit to your trust the true riches?" (Luke 16:11.) The answer is no one! If you cannot prove faithful in discharging your present financial obligations, God will not give you the much greater duties of the Kingdom of God. It is that important! If you realize this is a problem with you, start doing something about it now. There are many good books M this very subject at your disposal in your public library; banks often have similar material. Study about it, think about it, pray about it. If necessary, consult your local minister about it if you are in a church area. In a few weeks' time you can be in control of the situation, and from there you can go on to a sound financial standing for yourself and your household. You will be very glad you did! This doesn't mean your wife can't write the checks, address and stamp the envelopes for you — but it does mean that you should always know your living expenses are within your earning power.
Now that you have begun applying your mind to this matter of responsibility, do you begin to see other areas that need your attention? As important as money matters are, they seem almost small compared to other tasks in your life. Take the everyday business of driving, for example. Are you a responsible driver? When you have the lives of your family, friends, and others at stake as well as your own life and property, how do you take that vast responsibility? "Speed Kills!" is a popular highway slogan. That is not entirely true. Recently Mr. Donald Campbell of England drove his turbine-powered race car "Bluebird" to the fantastic speed of 403.1 miles per hour for the official Land Speed Record of the world. That is five or six times as fast as you or I will ever drive our family auto, and it didn't kill him. But one split second of INATTENTION or CARELESSNESS would have! The same is true of each one of us whenever we take to ourselves the responsibility of driving. As members of God's Church we do a lot of driving. We travel to and from church services, Spokesman Club meetings, annual Holy Day observances, and special events. All the more reason we should think and act with responsibility, and thus qualify for God's promised protection. Plan all your trips with responsibility. Leave on time. Drive within the specified speed limits. Keep alert — stay ALIVE! Equally great is the full-time job of properly rearing your children. Even though God's Church has supplied every help and aid, many members still shrug off this responsibility lightly. They overlook somehow the most glaring offenses, putting off forever the task of disciplining their children. Yet "He that spareth his rod hateth his son..." God says in Proverbs 13:24. Furthermore, while they are still children is the time to train into them the habit of responsibility. Children should be given regular chores to do around the house such as dish-washing, lawn-mowing, snow-shoveling, etc. They may be given a small allowance to manage, so that they can learn God's tithing laws and proper financial CONTROL which should include some savings. Parents should encourage school-age children to prepare their assignments fully and ON TIME! By giving them the guidance and training that in many instances we did not receive, they will be not the weak of this world, but Millennial Pioneers equipped with good, responsible character traits.
Most important of all are our spiritual responsibilities. A big point to consider here, however, is that if we cannot even master the little physical details in our lives, we will certainly not be able to prove faithful spiritually. Responsibility or "faithfulness," as the Bible puts it, is a far-reaching virtue. It involves every facet of our lives. Countless times we have been exhorted, urged, and encouraged to STUDY and PRAY regularly, faithfully, day after day, at least thirty minutes a day. This is the most important responsibility of all to our spiritual life and ultimate salvation. Yet why is it that this is the one in which we all too often let down? We can't afford to let that happen, brethren! The time is too short! Notice how Christ explained this in Matthew 24:45-51. He asked, "Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?" Christ then explained it would be the servant that was responsible in all his duties even in his master's absence, like the ant of Proverbs 6 that laid up for the winter without "guide, overseer, or ruler." Nobody is standing over us with a whip or club to make us pray and study as we ought. We must make ourselves do these things, calling on God for the strength to overcome our resisting carnality. The evil servant (Verses 48-50) who begins to abuse his office and utterly fail to perform his responsibilities shall be totally unexpecting and unprepared for Christ's return, and shall be cut off and have only the reward of the other hypocrites who also pretended to be doing their duties. For these there will be "weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Verse 51).
Become Responsible NOW!
Don't let this happen to you!! If you feel yourself drifting in that direction, check that drift now before it is forever too late! Ask yourself, "What are my responsibilities?" List on a piece of paper as many of them as you can think of. Note which ones you are doing faithfully and which ones you aren't. Then arrange the ones you have been falling down on in the order of their importance — spiritual ones first! Then launch into an all-out campaign to perform these responsibilities faithfully, regularly, diligently. And don't forget to enlist God's help at every step of the way, remembering that "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak!" (Matt. 26:41.) Remember that there won't BE any IRRESPONSIBLE members of the God family! If you don't demonstrate the virtue of responsibility now in your everyday living, YOU won't make it into the Kingdom of God! But if you do make it part of you now, someday you will hear our Master and King, Jesus Christ, say, "Well done, thou good and faithful [responsible] servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord!" (Matt. 25:21.)