"I didn't do it!" oh, how I remember those shouts from my young children when we would ask them about how something got broken, went missing, or used inappropriately. Their immediate response was denial. It seemed, no one in our family did it. We even developed a humorous spirit about these moments, blaming the dogs, mystery visitors, even imaginary animals for the unexplained events. We still laugh about those moments.
It is difficult to take responsibility as a child, fearing the repercussions of your actions. It turns out, taking responsibility is difficult for adults as well. We hear similar expressions of our youthful cries when someone says, "I didn't cause the problem, why should I have to care?" This, and the many other variations of, "This isn't my register," occuir frequently. Sometimes, we are the ones saying it.
It is true that many problems and challenges we encounter are not directly our fault, but that does not mean we have no responsibility to respond. Even in circumstances obviously caused by someone else's actions, we are still called to act as God's representatives and take responsibility for what we can do to make things better.
In the book of Proverbs, we find many simple, yet deeply challenging axioms. In a section the New International Version titles, "Wisdom Bestows Well-Being," we find this call to action, "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act." (3:27)
Ask yourself, "to whom is good due?" It would be easy to answer the question by suggesting some form of karma, that good is due to those who do good. We could reply by suggesting that good should be shown to who earn it, those we like, or those we feel warrant it. The deeper question we must ask in our search is, "who deserves good in God's eyes?" God offers goodness to many unlikely candidates. In fact, the Scripture even says that God's kindness leads to repentance, which clearly means that God shares goodness with those who have not earned it, in order to lead them closer to him. Maybe, we could say, "We should not withhold good when it is in our power to offer it."
Following the ascribed title for this section, we can see how the wisdom of God leads us to make choices that create well-being, ours and others. When we walk in God's ways, our lives will experience the richness of God's presence and peace. We will also find ourselves putting our faith into action, blessing others with goodness and kindness as we are able.
It is easy to bless and care for those we love and who care for us. The bigger, and more meaningful, expression of our connection with Christ is the ability to offer goodness to those we find challenging to love. Just as we are called to forgive others just as we have been forgiven, so too, we should offer blessing, kindness and goodness just as we have received these gifts from God. After all, we know how much it means that God would bless us, being good and kind to us in spite of our sin. Therefore, it should be all the easier to be a blessing to others.
It would be convenient to claim no responsibility in these circumstances, but we really are responsible. Laying it at the feet of someone else may seem attractive, but it denies that God brought us into those circumstances for a reason. If we will live with open eyes and open spirits, we will see the needs around us and recognize the power of God at work within and through us to touch those needs in his name. What an opportunity to be the Gospel to others, and what a blessing it is to embrace that opportunity.