God blessed me with a godly and kind mother-in-law. When her independence began to wane, Larry and I invited her to live with us. Having lived hundreds and then thousands of miles apart, we sincerely welcomed the opportunity to have her in our home. However, she wouldn’t consider leaving Arizona.
Larry sent monthly checks to help her fill the gap in her living expenses, but we didn’t know what we’d do when she required full-time care. Our ministry income wouldn’t stretch to cover that expense.
Larry and I felt a level of responsibility to ensure Grandma was well taken care of in her latter years. Perhaps because our visits were spread out, we recognized her decline better than she. When she refused our offer of a place in our home, we didn’t know how to fulfill our duty and desire to help her. God used this incidence to help us learn the difference between being faithful and being responsible.
Being Faithful Versus Being Responsible
Being responsible as in “being reliable or dependable” is good and godly (Psalm 15:4). For our purpose, let’s call that faithfulness.
- Faithfulness is doing our best in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God.
- Being responsible is taking responsibility for the results or outcomes beyond our resources or control.
Losing my mother as a teenager accompanied by my father’s paralyzing grief amped my firstborn sense of responsibility. I equated being responsible with being dependable. But when being responsible means depending on myself and my resources instead of relying on God it’s unhealthy and ungodly.When being responsible means depending on myself and my resources instead of relying on God it’s unhealthy and ungodly. #Faithful, #Faithfulness Click To Tweet
This kind of responsibility steals our peace and joy. It puts the focus on our efforts instead of on God’s faithfulness. This sense of duty doesn’t allow mistakes or rest. It leaves no time to notice God’s everyday provisions, let alone savor them. The responsible person jumps from one challenge to the next, always on duty, not trusting others to share the load.
The faithful work hard, but they also know when to rest and recharge, when to put human needs before the goal, and when to celebrate small wins. They know God is big enough to take care of them and their future.
Being faithful and being responsible may look similar, but the difference is vast and eternal. For example, consider how these different viewpoints affect even our interpretation of scripture.
Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be wise,
Which, having no chief,
Officer or ruler,
Prepares her food in the summer
And gathers her provision in the harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-8, NASB).
The Responsible Responds: “It’s up to me to…”
- Predict possible troubles.
- Prepare for the unknown.
- Take care of myself and loved ones.
The Faithful Responds: “He is able to…”
- Direct my steps (Psalm 37:23).
- Supply my needs (Psalm 34:4-10; Philippians 4:19).
- Secure my future (Matthew 6:33-34, 1 Peter 5:7).
The Bible says the righteous live by faith. A life filled with faith produces faithfulness. God calls us to be faithful stewards whose security rests in our faithful Provider not in our storehouses. Many times after Larry’s efforts to raise ministry funds appeared to fall short, I’ve seen God reward his faithfulness by providing funds from unexpected sources.
What’s the difference between being responsible and being faithful?
- The responsible person works for tomorrow but misses today’s joy.
- The faithful person prepares for tomorrow while enjoying today.
Remember Larry’s mom? When dementia set in God provided a wonderful place in her beloved Arizona that didn’t require a penny more than the sale of her house.
With skyrocketing prices and rumors of greater shortages, it’s tempting to worry over tomorrow and miss the joys of today. Consider your concerns. Will you look to your efforts or God’s faithfulness to carry you through?
The difference between being responsible and being faithful is the difference between heaviness and joy, self-effort and faith. We can practice faithfulness because He is faithful.
Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful …. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21 ESV).
Could your weakness be your invitation to experience God’s strength? Stay tuned for the upcoming release of Little Strength, Big God the end of this summer. If you haven’t already, subscribe to Refreshing Faith and stay updated.
Summer Zoom Group for Women
Our summer online study begins Tuesday June 7th. We’ll meet from 7-8:30 p.m. EST on Zoom. I’ll email the lessons out each week. We’ll be looking at various Scriptures concerning what it looks like to return to God. Contact me if you can join us.
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