Personal responsibility

Something that has bothered me for quite some time is the habit many Christians have of castigating themselves for their bad choices and failures, but then blaming God for their successes and good choices. I can understand being thankful to God for assistance with success, but shouldn’t this personal responsibility go both ways?

Responsibility and our choices do go both ways, but the reason we chastise ourselves on our wrongs and then praise God when we correct ourselves is because it is by the grace of God that we are able to have hope for the future in spite of our past wrongs. Making right decisions does not make the evil done in the past somehow vanish from the annals of recorded or unrecorded history. God establishes the sacraments so that we can be forgiven of such wrongs, and He build us up for the future. I don’t see anything mutually exclusive about something being a gift and yet at the same time being an active choice to make.

“Do not say: “It was God’s doing that I fell away,” for what he hates he does not do. Do not say: “He himself has led me astray,” for he has no need of the wicked. Abominable wickedness the Lord hates and he does not let it happen to those who fear him. God in the beginning created human beings and made them subject to their own free choice. If you choose, you can keep the commandments; loyalty is doing the will of God. Set before you are fire and water; to whatever you choose, stretch out your hand. Before everyone are life and death, whichever they choose will be given them.”
-Ben Sira 16: 11-17


Strange word to use, but I’ll take it you mean giving God responsibility for our success.

This is because we recognise that anything good…and our very existence…is only possible through God’s graces. We recognise God as the author and sustainer of life, and as such is the author of any successes we have.

There is a notion in Catholicism of merit, and it is often misunderstood. But we do recognise the merit that each person has in cooperating with God. We are responsible, and thus receive merit, for the degree that we cooperate, like we are culpable when we fail to cooperate. But - even this merit is recognised as coming from God. Our ability to cooperate with God is itself a gift from God.

Personal responsibility is to do God’s will. Focus on what you know He want you to do.

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