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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dependent Responsibility

From Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate by Jerry Bridges, pages 41-45.

There is a fundamental principle of the Christian life that I call the principle of dependent responsibility: that is, we are responsible before God to obey His Word, to put to death the sins in our lives, both the so-called acceptable sins and the obviously not acceptable ones. At the same time, we do not have the ability within ourselves to carry out this responsibility. We are in fact totally dependent upon the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. In this sense, we are both responsible and dependent.

...God does not tempt us to sin (see James 1:13-14) but He does bring or allow circumstances to come into our lives that give us opportunity to put to death the particular subtle sins that are characteristic of our individual lives...

...God is in control of every circumstance and every event of our lives, and He uses them, often in some mysterious way, to change us more into the likeness of Christ.

We do have a vital part to play. We are responsible to put to death the acceptable sins in our lives. We cannot simply lay this responsibility on God and sit back and watch Him work. At the same time, we are dependent. We cannot make one inch of spiritual progress apart from His enabling power.

Jean says:

Yet another enigma, God. You are above my understanding. You are so complex that my insect-sized brain cannot possibly grasp Who and What You are. Likewise, I cannot understand how You do what You do in me. But I'm glad, so indescribably glad, that You do it.

Mr. Bridge says that You do not tempt me to sin (Hallelujah!) but that You do allow or orchestrate circumstances that will give me opportunities to grow, to be translated, to be changed into the likeness of Jesus. At the time such circumstances surround me I'm not usually very grateful, Lord. I'm usually stressed and torn between options. I'm often "in a pickle" of a decision. Usually I KNOW what I should do, but I also know what I WANT to do. So, time and again, You present me with the opportunity to choose to do what is right.

It seems to me that You keep presenting me with the same opportunities, or the same choices, again and again. I guess in Your infinite patience You keep teaching me the same lesson until I get it. You keep giving me practice time until I get it right.

I remember when our sons were in that Little League stage of life I tried to help them with their batting practice. I'd (try to) pitch to them again and again, day after day. They'd work on their swing and their timing and making contact with the ball again and again, day after day until they got it right.

Until they got it right.

Until I get it right. Until I consistently choose automatically, without a bunch of introspection and agony, to do what is right in Your Holy Eyes.

God says:

All that swinging. All that time beside home plate keeping their eyes on the ball and working on that follow-through. Until they got it right. Until they could consistently, dependably hit that ball and not only make it to first base, but bring their team mates around the bases and home.

You didn't give up on those little guys. Their coaches didn't give up on them. They kept working with those Little Leaguers, and you kept sitting on those hard bleachers, rooting for them through the whole season. Why? Because you were on their team. You were their cheerleader. You wanted them to succeed. You wanted them to experience the joy of victory and the rewards of persistence. You wanted them to grow in their skills and in their character.

Remember, Little One, I'm sitting on your bleachers. I'm rooting for you, too.