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Freedom Meets Responsibility
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 10:23-24, 27-33; 1 Corinth...
Track 3 of 6 in the A Freedom Journey series
Running time: 1 hour, 04 minutes, 10 seconds.
The one thing we can say about responsibility is, it is rarely convenient and almost always difficult. But for those of us who follow after Jesus, responsibility is an essential part of understanding freedom. Freedom and Responsibility flow together hand in glove. You can't experience one without the other.

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Liberty Meets Responsibility

Responsibility is one of those personal traits that seem to be lacking in today’s world. Everywhere we turn these days people are calling out for fairness, freedom, liberty and relief from their unwise actions with little regard or understanding about their personal responsibility or accountability in life. As I watch the “Occupy Wall Street” crowd, I find myself screaming at the TV asking, “what don’t you understand about your own responsibilities”? Responsibility doesn’t come naturally to most of us. This quality in our personality needs to be engrained into our thinking and convictions.

How many of you would consider yourself a responsible person? How many of you take personal responsibility too far? In your relationships, especially in marriage, how important is personal responsibility?

I did some digging to see if there were studies out there that surveyed what people thought about personal responsibility. One survey I found studied the importance of personal responsibility in relationships. Here were some of the results:

Their definition of personal responsibility: Taking full responsibility for your own emotional, spiritual, physical, and mental wellbeing. This survey looked at this definition in relationship to quality relationships, how beneficial it is, what the risks are, and the ways in which we have difficulty being overly responsible for others or giving up responsibility to others.

• How important is it? 99% said important, 65% said very important.

• When asked about the potential benefits of personal responsibility in relationships:
- A better ability to manage hurt and pain at (78%)
- A freedom to be genuine with others (77%), increased maturity (77%), and others feeling emotionally safe (68%)
- The highest number of men chose freedom to be genuine while the highest number of women chose better ability to manage hurt and pain.

• When asked about the personal risks in taking personal responsibility:
- The most identified risk was being perceived as selfish or uncaring (48%)
- Accepting blame (40%), others might take advantage of me--doormat (38%), being unfairly blamed (36%), decreased emotional safety (20%), and less freedom to be genuine (9%)
- Women most often chose being perceived as selfish or uncaring while men chose equally between being perceived as selfish or uncaring and being taken advantage of.

• When it comes to being over responsible or giving up personal responsibility.
- The relationship that respondents identified as having the most difficulty being overly responsible for was with their spouse (60% of respondents). Children were next at 49%.
- The relationship that respondents indicated they would most likely abdicate responsibility was to their spouse (46%). Children were next at 40%.

Why do you think spouse and children are the ones we feel the most responsible for and most likely to abdicate our responsibilities to? We are around them the most. It was interesting that men had higher results stating that co-workers and friends were the ones they feel over responsible for or abdicate responsibility to more than women. Why is that?

The one thing we can say about responsibility is, it is rarely convenient and almost always difficult. But for those of us who follow after Jesus, responsibility is an essential part of understanding freedom. Many feel that freedom is the throwing off of responsibility in a person’s life. They no longer have to worry about what other people think, feel or demand from them. In our relationship with Christ, it is just the opposite. Freedom and Responsibility flow together hand in glove. You can’t experience one without the other. This understanding throws out the understanding that “anything goes as long as it is permissible” attitude.

Paul will again address this theme in 1 Corinthians 10. He makes a very important statement here that Christians wrestle with all the time.

1 Corinthians 10:23-24 “Everything is permissible”—BUT not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—BUT not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.

We will see in Paul’s understanding how Christians are to filter their freedom discussions. Freedom’s focus should be centered on what idea? (Serving others)

True or False: Just because all things are lawful doesn’t mean all things should be done.

If false, how can the Christian live and what are the rules? If true, how is this done and what are the rules?

It is not by chance that Paul uses the slogan, “All things are lawful”. Because in the Corinthian culture they took pride in the fact that they considered all things to be actually lawful. They touted the fact that in their society freedom was a personal right to be exercised. It was the Las Vegas of Greece and the world. What happened in Corinth stayed in Corinth. It was a filthy society where anything went, no holding back.

Paul used that theme that the Corinthian church understood and turned the idea on its head. He proclaimed to the church that the Christian had total freedom to do what was good in the act of service to others. Here is a great example of BUTology found in the scriptures. This theology is found all over the Bible. This theology highlights the exceptions to the rule or conventional wisdom. BUTology reveals God’s wisdom and encourages the believer in God to look at a better, more effective alternative.

When dealing with the Freedom a Christian has and the responsibility that goes with it, Paul applies BUTology to it and it comes out like this:

Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, BUT in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, BUT also to the interests of others.

From what Paul says here, describe for me Paul’s definition of personal freedom. How does this look to those around us as we work out our freedom in Christ?

John Wesley, one of the greatest leaders in church history. It is amazing what he did during his life for the Kingdom. He was a giant in his time and yet he viewed his life through the lens of service to others and the building up of others. He was known for his Rule.

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.

This is exactly the same attitude and recurring theme that continually rises to the surface throughout the apostle Paul’s writings on the subject of freedom.

True or False: My Christian liberty is determined by someone else’s conscience.

If yes, then what keeps a Christian from becoming paranoid in their freedom decisions? If no, where does offending someone’s conscience fit in?

1 Corinthians 10:27-30 If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. But if anyone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience’ sake—the other man’s conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another’s conscience? If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?

How does Paul answer this question? Paul had every right to sit at a table and eat meat. BUT, Paul knew the issue wasn’t just a matter of rights but also what was wise to do.

True or False: When we know what is wise but don’t do it, we sin.

Paul would say this is true because when we are unconcerned about the spiritual wellbeing of others, we sin. It goes against the sacred trust of freedom given to us by God. Here is the fact Paul wants us to understand:

We are responsible for the knowledge we have no matter what situation we find ourselves in. Knowing demands a degree of responsibility to others who might be watching.

So why worry about our responsibility in freedom? How can we expect and help each other to know what is right or wrong? What is the goal we are shooting for in this experience and effort?

The Ultimate Goal of Responsible Freedom is to Glorify God Exhaustively

1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

This verse naturally causes us to ask, What actions bring glory to God?

The Rule: If an action is inconsistent with what the Bible teaches concerning freedom in Christ, then the action doesn’t bring glory to God.

When we seek to glorify God, it motivates us to do some of the following things:

• Motivates us to a proactive selflessness toward humanity. We can offend someone without meaning to, but the majority of the time we offend others because of our self-centered attitude. Responsible freedom means, it is not about us. Don’t cause offense to others but build them up. Most of the time we can’t build others up because we are so busy building ourselves up.

• Motivates us to lead others to salvation. What does all this freedom lead to…

1 Corinthians 10:33 For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

• Motivates us to be an example to be followed. Responsible freedom can be imitated and must be consistent with Christ.

1 Corinthians 11:1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

How many of you have ever said that statement to someone? Why or why not? If you are the only Christian a person knows, how are they to learn about Jesus and follow in his steps?

Here is a question we need to ask ourselves every night before we go to bed concerning our day and looking ahead to tomorrow, Can others imitate me, and in doing so will they mirror Jesus?

There is no greater testimony about the life of a person than to look back and see who imitated their actions. Be very careful as a Christian because there are people watching you and there are those out there who follow your steps and seek to be like you. Usually the first to follow are your kids. Are you living a life worth imitating, especially by your kids? Do you want them to imitate you? If not then changes need to be made.

Thomas Kempis wrote a neat book on imitating Christ, The Imitation of Christ. In it he says a very profound thing about others imitating us: “Wherever you go, there you are.”