There is a seldom-used virtue in Scripture and in the reality of life. It is the virtue of responsibility. You haven't seen it often because most bad actions in today's world are the result of other factors. "My environment caused it." "They made me do it." "They did it so I can do it too." "I was drinking." "The dog ate my homework, power bill, house payment bill, appointment book, etc." In an excuse-rich society I want to take a moment to say "I'm sorry!"
To quote Dr. Seuss "I have puzzled and puzzled 'till my puzzler was sore.'" Why are there so many things in societal behavior that are so wrong, so 'off-the-track' and so anti-Bible? I have decided that I will begin to accept responsibility for some of these by saying some specific "I'm sorrys." I will be speaking to younger generations, which seems to be almost everyone anymore. Here goes.
I'm sorry for not telling you that your specialness isn't because you are inherently good. The Bible says our hearts are naturally deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9) and that all of us (Romans 3:23) have succumbed to our fallen nature. Your specialness and my specialness and the specialness of those kids we have told they are 'princes' and 'princesses' is because they were 'fearfully and wonderfully made' (Ps. 139) by a God that imparts His image (Genesis 1) into our lowly selves. Our spark of the Divine is because of the love, goodness and gift of God. We neither deserve it nor adequately acknowledge it. Let's stop feeding our kids, grand kids and great grand kids the idea that they are somehow worthy of royal treatment. I wonder if this colossal error is part of why we have so much anxiety, depression and other mental disorders that arise when kids (and adults) find that their behavior (they know their own thoughts and motives) fails to ascend the false pedestal on which we have placed them.
I'm sorry for failing to lead you to God. I have used sermons, Bible lessons and scolding to tell you the words of the faith. Then, I have set my personal priorities which I am quick to say belong to me. I forget one vital thing ... you are watching. So when I have a chance to prioritize God first with money, time, talent and action, I have a propensity to 'walk on the other side of the road' (Luke 10:31). My righteous words have too-often been followed by self-centered actions. You see it when I spend time, money and my precious right to vote. And I rationalize my behavior by absolving myself from the responsibility to follow my holy talk by sacrificial action. I have placed my needs above the needs of God, speaking volumes by my actions. I am sorry!
Finally, I am sorry for showing you that we should be guided by feelings. A person, in rationalizing their behavior, told me we should follow our feelings implying that feelings come from God and who we are. Then I remembered a story from Scripture. Jesus is alone in the wilderness (Matthew 4), hungry, thirsty and seemingly powerless. Satan sees his opportunity and plays games with the feelings we all have as humans. "Jesus, don't you feel hungry? Why don't You turn these stones to bread?" "Jesus, don't you feel alone and unwanted? Why don't you test God by casting yourself off a precipice?" "Jesus, don't you feel powerless and out of control? I can help you GET the power you deserve." Satan is always reminding us of our feelings and how we deserve to respond to them. I'm sorry I have empowered and encouraged this in my kids and grand kids.
In the song "Watercolor Ponies" Wayne Watson reminds us that leading our children is not for the squeamish ... "Seems an endless mound of laundry, and a stairway laced with toys, gives a blow by blow reminder of the war, that we fight for their well-being, for their greater understanding, to impart a holy reverence for the Lord." We are in the war and in the wilderness. We are buffeted on every side by an enemy whose greatest tool (I believe) is to suggest that we follow feelings, personal priorities and entitlements toward a very self-focused world. It is a war that can only be won by following the one who has preceded us in this wilderness. He knows the enemy. He knows us. He knows our tendency toward self. And He tells us (and shows us) the way forward and out of the wilderness. I don't know who you will follow, but I will try to lead my family to follow the Lord! And Lord, I will try to do this in a way that will not cause me to say, 'I'm sorry!" Randy