Every one of us, with the exception of the very young, has some responsibility. We are commanded to be stewards of all that God has given to us. We are to share in bearing the burdens of others. “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden” (Gal. 6:2-5).
There are burdens we have that others can help us bear, and there are those we alone must bear. An example of a burden someone else can help us with would be praying for someone in some kind of distress or trial. An example of a burden only we can bear would be a physical sickness. There are many burdens that fit one or the other of these two categories. This writing will focus more on bearing our own burdens.
Our human tendency is to do all we can to avoid any kind of burden. For example, when we get sick, we do all we can to regain our health so we do not need to carry the burden of being sick. We also do all we can to avoid carrying spiritual burdens. We do all we can to avoid the responsibility that comes with many of the challenges life brings to us.
When we are discouraged, offended, hurt, having difficulty loving someone, or having other trials, we do not want to take the responsibility for these things. Our human tendency is to blame someone else.
Everything that happens to us in life is our responsibility. I have heard many times in wedding sermons that everything that happens in the home is the man’s responsibility. I chafed under this thought until I was able to understand that as the head of the home, what happens in my home is my responsibility. However, not everything that happens in my home is my fault. It is the same in life. Many things happen to us that are not our fault, but they are our responsibility.
A child may grow up in an underprivileged home, an abusive home, a single-parent home, a home where there has been substance abuse, or he may be orphaned at a young age. There are many undesirable situations. The lack in the home is not the child’s fault, but the child must deal with these things in order to find happiness. Constantly blaming our home, parents, circumstances, congregation, or any other person will not bring happiness. Blaming others is what we tend to do, but this is shirking our responsibility. Though the situation is not my fault, if I want to find happiness, I will deal with it as my responsibility. If nothing else, I am responsible for my feelings about the situation.
Unforgiveness is the tightest prison cell we can lock ourselves into. If we want freedom, we take responsibility for our feelings and forgive from the heart. Selfishness is another very tight prison into which I put myself. The opening of this prison is accepting responsibility for my own feelings, admitting they are wrong, and dealing with them accordingly. I cannot control the situation, I cannot change the past, I cannot change anyone, but I do have the responsibility to control my reaction to the situation. Is it wrong to say that every situation in life that I find myself in is my responsibility? I can accept the responsibility for these situations and deal with them in a positive way, or I can reject the responsibility for them by blaming others.
I have heard numerous times, something to the effect that “people will long remember how you made them feel.” Is this statement really correct? Can anyone really “make” me feel anything? I allow myself to feel the way I do by either accepting or rejecting that I am responsible for my own feelings in the situation. We choose to see the glass as half full or half empty. We choose to allow what was said, or the situation we find ourselves in, or something in our past, to either affect us negatively or make us stronger.
Some years ago a minister preached a sermon. The title of the message could have been “If You’ve Got a Problem, It’s Your Problem.” This statement was repeated numerous times in the message. I wonder—could this statement be used with every problem we ever encounter? Is this statement true of every problem we face? Who of us has never felt like saying, “He or she made me do it,” and many of us as parents have heard our children say just that. Yet we, or our child, are responsible for our thoughts and actions.
Many of us, at some point in life, have made the statement, “People don’t like me.” Young people who are not married and maybe getting a little older sometimes say, “I’m not married because nobody likes me.” This is in the category of blaming others. I believe it would be better if instead of saying, “Nobody likes me,” we would take responsibility for ourselves and take a look within to see why we think nobody likes me. Is it something I do or say, or how I act? When I look within, it becomes something I am responsible for, and I can deal with it. We cannot “make” people like us, but we can be someone they like! It is basically impossible for me to change someone else, but I can change myself. Avoiding our responsibility is to keep thinking no one likes us, and it is their fault.
Jesus Christ, our supreme example, never blamed anyone. He helped those who asked, whether they were thankful or not. He helped some whose spirits were not right. When betrayed, He did not chide Judas. He had the power to destroy the world, and could have done so, since the world rejected Him. In all, even the death on the cross, He fully accepted the responsibility that was His, and He carried His burden. May we strive to follow His example.
Messenger of Truth, 2016, No. 6