I recently gave a lesson during Family Experience to our young families about the topic of responsibility. Responsibility according to Webster is “the quality or state of being responsible.” There are three categories of responsibility.
First, there is taking responsibility for something which went wrong, whether accidental or purposeful. Saying, I did that, and I need to deal with the consequences. I call this “oops-responsibility.” (O) Oops-responsibility admits when something has gone wrong and takes the necessary steps to make the situation right.
There is a second type of responsibility, which I call “required-responsibility”. Required-responsibility (R) takes seriously those things which it must do. For a child these would be cleaning up their room or taking out the trash. For an adult this could include paying the bills, going to work, or fixing the car.
There is a third type of responsibility-“grace-responsibility.” Grace-responsibility takes responsibility for things that it doesn’t have to. (G) One of the ways we see grace lived out in Scripture is by one party taking responsibility for another party to which they have no obligation. The parable of the Good Samaritan illustrates this beautifully. Luke 10:29-37 records the story.
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ (NIV)
The Samaritan showed mercy on the wounded man. He extended grace to him. How did he extend grace to him? He extended grace to him by taking responsibility for his care even though he didn’t have to. This is “grace-responsibility”, but this isn’t the greatest example. The greatest example of “grace responsibility” is found in the Lord Jesus. Philippians 2:5-8 shows us this.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! (NIV)
Jesus stepped out of heaven in order to take responsibility for the sins of all humanity. This is the ultimate expression of grace-responsibility. Jesus certainly didn’t have to take responsibility for my sin or anyone else's, but He did and in doing so, in practicing grace-responsibility He extended grace to all who believe. How about you and me, will we live life only taking responsibility for things we do wrong, or things we have to do? Or will we sometimes extend grace to others by practicing grace-responsibility like Jesus? When we do that, a world which knows nothing of grace will see it modeled in our lives.