“Each of us will give a personal account to God” (Romans 14:12, NLT).
Personal accountability is not an option. God has standards for our actions in this life. If we break those standards, there are consequences. It is time that we take responsibility for who we are, what we believe, what we say, and how we act. We are not responsible for circumstances over which we have no control, but we are responsible for what we do or say and how we respond to circumstances, our failures, our mistakes, and our problems in life. We are totally responsible for our actions and our reactions.
“You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others,” the writer to the Hebrews declares. “Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food” (Hebrews 5:12, NLT). If I never make an effort to grow up, then I shall remain an infant in my actions and attitudes, and will not understand what God requires of me. Spiritual growth in Christ is a requirement, and it does not allow me to make excuses. It instructs that I must take responsibility for my bad attitude or any fly-off-the-handle reaction. It requires that I should learn from my failure, and if I am responsible for a problem, I should make every effort to not create that circumstance again. It also tells me that the next time I am faced with hard circumstances (either of my own making or not of my own making), I should react in a way which honors God. Spiritual maturity instructs that I can speak humbly and react with grace—that I will not be consumed with worry over the reactions of others. To do these things I need to have matured spiritually until knowledge of His will pervades my life. “We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will,” Paul writes, “and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better” (Colossians 1:9b-10, NLT).
Without spiritual wisdom and understanding to control my attitude and my reactions, I cannot live a life that pleases God. As I grow to know Him better, it is easier to surrender to His will. My actions and reactions are more easily controlled by the Holy Spirit. A life controlled by the Spirit exhibits the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). The only way that I can have the fruit of the Spirit alive in my life is to allow my selfishness and “me” attitude to be crucified so I can be raised in newness of life in Christ (Romans 6:4). I must surrender all that I believe I own or feel I deserve. When I am willing to be crucified with Him and make this selfless journey–when I am willing to accept my responsibility for all that I am–when I am ready to realize that without Him I cannot become my true self–then I have begun the journey to grow spiritually mature.
One day I pray that I will be able to say as Paul said, “Lord, all my selfishness has been crucified with you, and you have lived within me. I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection, but I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (Philippians 3:12-14, NLT). No, just as Paul, I have not achieved it, but I want to grow up to become who God knows I can be. Spiritual growth is a process. Process becomes progress when I realize that in reaching for His heavenly promise the Holy Spirit has the right and ability to mold my life. It means that I can never remain stagnant, stale, or negative. It means that I have been bought with the most precious gift of His life. I press on to have the attitude of my Savior who gave Himself unselfishly for me. I press on toward the goal to which God has called me. I press on.
(Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher)