Rights and Responsibilities

My Responsibility Not My Rights

We live in interesting times with many falling away from faith and people allowing issues to divide their families and friendships. There is an observation from overseas that as churches get back to corporate worship, numbers are down by up to 50%. Will this be the same here in NZ?

So, what is at play here in the background of these events?


In a recent men’s group discussion, the reflection and discussion were on Jesus’ teaching in the Parable of the Sower, see Matthew 13:1-24. This is a passage I have reflected on many times over the last 45 years as a born-again believer. Could this parable answer the dilemma in the church that too many of our recent church attendees were planted in shallow soil?

“The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time.” (Matthew 13:20-21.)


Or could it be found in Matthew 13:22? “The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.”


Then the reading from the WiseChoices devotional the same day came from Mark 10:43-45.

“Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.” (Mark 10:43-44.)


In the culture of today, the focus is all on RIGHTS not RESPONSIBILITIES. Many people are struggling for significance or greatness and perhaps it is the fruit of self-focus and my rights vs following Jesus’ instructions and actions of being a servant to all. This is where significance will be found.


Responsibility – this is our choice.

Responsible for what? Dare I suggest, for the quality of our soil. We all start our Christian walks in rocky or shallow soil, but we are responsible for our own souls. We are responsible to allow the Word and Spirit of God to change us – transform us – to be born-again. To nurture our soil (soul) to become deep and rich. To attack the weeds as soon as they become evident. It is a life-long process as any gardener knows. Quality soil preparation and planting, watering and sunlight, protection from the wind – is only days away from the first weed. If we don’t eliminate the weeds and continue the disciplines of good gardening, then we are not far away from a poor-quality harvest.


Dare I say that we have to model our life after Jesus, forget about ourselves, and be a servant of all. Our focus has to be outwards not inwards. Resilience is built on risk-taking and focusing on the needs of others.


Coming back to the Parable of the Sower –

“But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Matthew 13:23)


As I have pondered this my prayer has been, “Keep me sharp Lord, working my soil, that I can be a blessing to others, yielding a big harvest.”


Discussion Questions:

How do you think you can develop your personal soil to bear more fruit for God?

What can you use to become more resilient in your present situation?



Peter Goulter