Recognizing RealÂ ResponsibilitiesÂ in OurÂ Relationship to God
Responsibilities andÂ obligations; these are daunting words that we all seem to have or perceive in abundance. SomeÂ of which are real or true and others in which we have just filled our time with to somehow prove our own importance or self-worth to the world. We often tend to burden ourselves with the busyness of life adding more and more responsibilities to our plates in the name of obligations overwhelming our lives with what is often nonessential nothingness.Â As we are moving past the middle of October many people are beginning to feel the pressure of the rising holidays building as more seemingly endless responsibilities seem to mount with ever-growing nearness as time continues to march forward.Â Perhaps it is time to step back and think carefully about the responsibilities we think are important in our lives.Â In our reflection of responsibilitiesÂ we mustÂ recognize the real responsibilities we have to our life and theÂ relationship with God.
This week I have placed the pendingÂ responsibilities of the last quarter of the yearÂ on hold as IÂ watch with anticipationÂ the changing of the season.Â As the weather isÂ finally cooling it beginsÂ to feel a little moreÂ like fall than summer at least in the mornings. The leaves are turning yellow, some tinged with red and some just flutter to the ground already meeting their demise. Whatever state they are inÂ it never ceases to amaze meÂ the beauty of nature in our world that surrounds us. God’sÂ touch is seen throughout the manyÂ living thingsÂ of this world no matter the time weÂ are in. Each season puts on a dazzling display of beauty that only the artistry of God could have produced.Â As I pondered the beauty of the current season this week I thought about the responsibilities we have to this place weÂ live temporarily. The idea of responsibilities to the magnificenceÂ gift of nature we are given reminds me of a story I heard many years ago but recently read again.
There was once a great and wise manÂ that called to one of his workers and said “Go into the country beyond and build for me a house. You may make all the decisions of planning and construction but please remember; I will come and take possession of the house in the end for a very special friend of mine.”
And so it was that the worker left with a happy disposition for the great task that he was given the daunting responsibility for completing. Upon arriving in the country beyond, the worker found materials of all kinds and types to be plentiful but the worker had a mind of his own. He thought to himself, “I know my business well and I can use some lesser quality materials here and there to make my work cheaper and easier but the finished work will look good on the surface. I will be the only one who will know that what I have built has weaknesses.”
At last the work was completed and the worker reported back to the great and wise man. The great and wise one said, “Very good, now you have remembered that I wanted you to use only the best materials and craftsmanship in this house because I wanted to make it a present to a very special friend of mine?
The worker nodded in agreement that he had fulfilled his responsibilities to the wise and great one as asked and required. “This is excellent “, the great one responded as he said, “My friend you are my very special friend and I had this house built for you. It is all yours.”
How much have we, as people, treated the responsibilities to the earth we live on as the worker did. We arrive as strangers andÂ are given free will and reign to build things as we wish and so we have but not always with the proper quality of materials and follow through. I thoughtÂ yesterday about the responsibilities God gave usÂ to the earth as I worked in the studio while listening to different speakers discuss the dire necessity of returning our lives back to more basic and natural things. It is overwhelming when you hear about the chemicals we use in our everyday environments and even the food we eat, all in the name of convenience or profit. What have weÂ done with the responsibilities weÂ are given to take care of this world we live in? I am not laying blame on anyone as I am just as guilty of enjoying and using the conveniences of life as anyone else but it has caused me to ponder deeply about my own personal responsibilities to the world in which I live and the responsibilities to who we are.
Learning to take care of the things I own was an important part of my childhood learning and so when gifts arrived, purchases made, or workÂ done,Â I learned to treat it special and attempt to take care of it with great responsibility because it is worthy to me. Yet there are things that I take for granted in which I do not necessarily feel a great responsibility to and therefore do not treat it with the same diligence and careÂ as an item I consider more worthy. Last night I ended my day thinking about all the things I had heard through the speakers of the afternoon and IÂ thought about how ashamed we, as people, should be of how we treat what God has given us. We cannot lay blame as we are allÂ responsible to a degree for what we have done to the world in the name of progress or better yet, comfort. We are not only destroying the world that God made, we are destroying ourselves along with it as we put things inside our bodies or to our skin that is not natural, unhealthy, and sometimes toxic. This is especially daunting as we look to the meaning of this week’s focus verse taken from Genesis 1:27 and the *Apocrypha book The Wisdom of Solomon 2:23;
So God created human beings in His own image. In the image of God He created them; male and female He created them. (NLT)
For God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity. (KJVA)
The Responsibilities of Reflection – How Much are You Worth?
His image: we are made in His own image these wordsÂ certainly sound like weÂ haveÂ responsibilities that should reflect well to not onlyÂ our creator but the creator’s creations.Â This would and should speak loudly to not only how we treat othersÂ but ourselves as well.Â I have read this week’s focus verse along with the other creation scripture versesÂ many times before and just chalked it up as being the creation story.Â Â In the past I have just skimmed through these scriptures wanting to get to “the good stuff” simplyÂ confirming that God created everythingÂ but this week I have looked deeper into the meaning of this verse and many others like it that confirms that God created us in His own image. (Genesis 1:26, 5:1, 9:6) All the rest of creation was just spoken into existence except us, humans. When God created us He formed us Himself from the earth thatÂ He had already created. He gave us His own breath. (Genesis 2:7)WeÂ are a direct image of Him including eternal life. WithÂ this life given to each of usÂ come great responsibilities because we are made in the image of God. We must acknowledge our worth to God and take the worth of the responsibilities that goes with our life.
We will never be like God as the created cannot equal the creator but we reflect His image and His glory as He is the one thatÂ created us. We have to hold the responsibilities of reflecting His character through the lives we live. God’s character shows us continued love withÂ forgiveness, extreme patience, kindness, joy, peace, goodness, gentleness, self-control, and above all God shows us consistent faithfulness to His word. We have responsibilitiesÂ that should reflect God’s character not only back to God but to others as well. Our worth is because we have been made in His image but too many times we lose the focus of our worth and responsibilities by following the ways of worth the world tells us is important.
We have lost sight of our reflections of responsibilities in the world as so many of us measure our worth according to the possessions that we own. Because of this misguided worth we pile on more responsibilities to ourselves attempting to show the world our worth by gaining more and more possessions. These additional responsibilities to gain more “stuff” often do not allow us to reflect the true responsibilities of kindness and sometimes faithfulness as we suddenly find ourselves surrounded with meaninglessÂ possessions and lost relationships of people because kindness fell along the roadside on the way to prove our worth through what we have. Often in the pursuit of possessions we lose our faith as we find ourselves blinded by everything except the gain of the next “toy” to prove our worth to the world. It is not however always the pursuit of “stuff” that we use to show the world what we are worth.
Sometimes we lose our reflections of responsibilities to the world because we are busy proving to the world our worth by what we do. We attempt to reflect to the world our worth ofÂ importanceÂ by our careers, education, and sometimes self-directedÂ and ill-considered deeds in the name of proving our importance. As we attempt to prove our worth to others through what we do we most often do not reflect the true responsibilities of patience or forgiveness. We do not have time for these responsibilities for there is too much to do in moving forward which often leads to impatience and sadly we lack forgiveness as we push away those who we do not agree with orÂ those whoÂ we feel have stepped in our path causing us to delay showing the world what we are worth by what we do. Worth however is not always thought about in terms of what we own or what we do. Many people feel a person’s worth is seen through what we physically look like.
Deeming someone’s worth through physical attributes may seem silly from the Christian perspective however many people lose sight of their responsibilities of joy, self-control, and goodness because they become hyper-focused on either the physical appearance of themselves or others. We, Christians, are just as guilty of this as we often think we must look a certain way even to attend church to worship God. Our world, throughÂ a variety ofÂ mass communications, seems to consistently want to push theÂ falseÂ importance of physical appearance to prove a person’s worth. This fallacious means of judgment can have dire consequences on the true responsibilities of reflections especially in the reflections of joy and goodness which can then lead to lack of self-control trying to gain this idealized worth of physical attributes. Most often those who are pushing a worth through physical attributes are attempting toÂ obtain a worth of different proportions for themselves namely, possessions in the form of money. Exploring worth though sometimes takes on a more personal note as occasionally we allow our worth to be defined by what people say.
There is an old children’s rhyme that says; Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. This rhyme is so far from the truth because words do hurt and often if we allow them to define our worth we will lose the responsibilities of peace and love. The loss of these real responsibilities ofÂ reflection can often be the most devastating of all. Many times the hurtful, angry, or unjustifiable words said by people cause us to spiral out of control andÂ wrongly clarify who we are and our importance in life. If we lose the responsibilities of love and peace to ourselves we willÂ not be ableÂ to reflect them toÂ others. We must remember that our worth is not determined by what others say no matter who they are.
There is only one way we canÂ prove our worth and it has already been declared. Our worthÂ is declared by God as He made us in His own image. That is our greatest attribute, it is who we are, it is what and by who defines us. Because we are made in His image we have nine true responsibilities to reflect back to not only our creator but others who He created. The responsibilities of love withÂ forgiveness, patience, kindness, joy, peace, goodness, gentleness, self-control, and faithfulnessÂ should be reflectedÂ from our lives. Â (Galatians 5: 22)Â We are not tasked with reflecting these responsibilities alone for God has given us the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ to help us reflect our responsibilities correctly.
God created us to be like Himself and so He does not intend for us to die but to live with Him in eternity. We have great responsibilities to God and all that He has created perhaps it is time we reconsider our worth and our world because all that He has created is valuable especially us because He created us in His own image.
Love in Christ,
*The Apocrypha or Deuterocanonicals are part of the Septuagint Greek text thatÂ was within the Old Testament place along with other books. They consist of the following books: Tobit, Judith, EstherÂ (the Greek text), Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Baruch, Letter of Jeremiah, Song of Three Young men, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, 1 Maccabees, and 2 Maccabees. They were not widely used by the Jews but were known well by the Gentiles who had not converted to Judaism but whoÂ found interest in the strong morals that they taught. As Christianity spread among the Greek speaking Jews and Gentiles the books were widely incorporated.
The traditional 39 books of the Hebrew Canon is thought to be historically adopted somewhere around 90 A.D. However there is no evidence to believe that agreement among all Jews was made until a later time. It was in the 4th C that the issue of canonicity came about in the Early Christian Church when Jerome placed what we know as the Deuterocanonicals or Apocrypha into a separate section together in his translation of the Old Testament.
The issue did not arise again until 1546 at the Council of Trent when the Roman Catholic Church officially declared the books to be sacred, canonical and accepted with equal devotion and respect. At the time of the Reformation Martin Luther did not regard the books as scriptures but instead as a very important part of understanding and study and he followed Jerome’s practice of placing the books between the Old and New Testaments.
Regardless of theÂ differences of names or placement between the Roman Catholics and Protestants there is generally wide-spread agreement of their importance as they provide valuable information on Jewish history, life, thought, religion, and worship practices prior to the time of Christ helping all understand better the historical and cultural situations where Jesus lived and taught.Â (Adapted from; Good News Bible with Deuterocanonicals/Apocrypha, The Bible in Today’s English Version, American Bible Society: 1979)
What are Your Thoughts? Join Us in Discussion.
Do you struggle with responsibilities? Have you added extra responsibilities that do not reflect the responsibilities or character of God? How do you measure your worth? Have you considered how valuable you are because you are made in the image of God? Join us in discussion on this topic or a related topic.