Individually Accountable

Responsibility in Human Relationships

Every person is individually accountable for their responsibility in any human relationship or event, independent and irrespective of others’ behavior. God’s expectation and judgment of every person in a relationship or event depend on his specific assignment for the person and are independent of his expectation and judgment of the other party. He holds each person accountable to fulfill their role. He rewards those that do and is displeased with those that don’t, irrespective of what others do or fail to do. We discuss Christ teaching in the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard and an example from David: based on his reverence for Saul in life and honor at death, not minding that Saul considered him an enemy and sought relentlessly to take his life.

Workers in the Vineyard
Workers in the Vineyard LumoProject.com FreeBibleImages.org

Every person is accountable for his/her responsibility in any human relationship, independent of the behavior of the other party. God’s expectations and judgment of an individual regarding conduct of a human relationship are independent of his expectations and judgment of the other party.

Apostle Paul describes the message in his letter to Romans [12:17–18], where he admonishes every person to perform their individual responsibility in any relationship irrespective of the other party performing or failing to perform theirs: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Paul used the phrase “…If it is possible, as far as it depends on you…” to emphasize you should explore all options to determine how it is possible, focus on the aspects that depend on you—the things you control, and leave the other party to handle the things they control. Therefore, Paul’s message emphasizes that God holds every person accountable to fulfill their individual responsibility in human relationship, independent and irrespective of the performance of the other party in the relationship.

Teaching individual responsibility
Teaching individual responsibility
LumoProject.com FreeBibleImages.org

We discuss Christ teaching in the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard [Matthew 20:1–15], regarding a hypothetical landowner that hired different groups of workers at different times based on a separate wage and service agreement for each group. At the end of the day, he honored the wage and service agreement for each group independent of the agreement for the others. He expected those he hired in the morning to work for the entire day whereas those he hired late in the day he expected to work for the remaining time. He judged that each fulfilled his expectation and had them paid according to each individual agreement. The landowner’s expectation and judgment of each worker were independent of his expectation and judgment of other workers. Similar to God’s expectation and judgment of an individual regarding behavior in a human relationship.

Also, we discuss David’s response to the death of Saul as an example of a person focusing on his individual responsibility in a relationship without minding the behavior of the other party. For several years, Saul considered David an enemy and pursued him relentlessly to take his life but was unsuccessful. In contrast, David was respectful of Saul as the sitting God-anointed king of Israel, would not “lay a hand” on Saul even when he encountered enticing opportunities to kill him, and mourned Saul at death to honor him as a fallen God-anointed king of Israel. His reverence for Saul in life and honor at death illustrate individual responsibility in human relationship is unidirectional and independent.

Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

Go work in my vineyard for "what is right"
Go work in my vineyard for “what is right”
LumoProject.com FreeBibleImages.org

The bible [Matthew 20:1–15] provides this parable in the spoken words of Jesus, which he started with the phrase “For the kingdom of heaven is like…;” thus, indicating he was about to explain an aspect of human relationship with God. He likened the relationship to the interactions between a hypothetical landowner and workers he hired at different times during a workday. The landowner sent the workers to his vineyard based on a separate wage and service agreement for each person. He discussed an agreement explicitly with the first group of workers: “He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard” [Matthew 20:2]. However, the agreements for subsequent workers were based only on the landowner’s understanding: “You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right” [Matthew 20:4].

Paying every person as agreed
Paying every person as agreed
LumoProject.com FreeBibleImages.org

At the end of the workday, the landowner judged each worker’s performance to be satisfactory according to his expectations and instructed that each be paid according to his understanding of the individual agreements. He chose to pay one denarius to each person for the day’s work. The workers hired first in the morning felt cheated because they expected to be paid more than the other workers. However, the landowner explained he paid them according to his agreement with them, which is independent of his agreement with the other workers. He paid each worker based on their fulfilling his expectations of them. Those he hired in the morning he expected to work all day, whereas those he hired later in the day he expected to work for the remaining time of the workday. His expectation of each worker was independent of his expectation of other workers.

Christ explains through the parable that God’s expectation and judgment of every person in a relationship or event depend on his specific assignment for the person. Every person is individually accountable for their responsibility, independent and irrespective of others performing or failing to perform theirs. As we discuss in a previous study under Following God Schedule by Living in His Image, God expects each person to recognize their opportunities and capabilities in every situation and holds every person accountable for deploying their capabilities: similar to salt deploying its saltiness and a lamp radiating light to benefit others. God rewards those that do and is displeased with those that don’t, irrespective of what others do or fail to do.

David’s Reverence for Saul
In Life and at Death

David’s reverence for Saul in life and honor at death provide an example of a person focusing on his individual responsibility in a relationship without minding the behavior of the other party. For several years, Saul considered David an enemy and pursued him relentlessly to take his life but was unsuccessful. In contrast, David was respectful of Saul as the sitting God-anointed king of Israel and would not “lay a hand” on Saul even when he encountered enticing opportunities to kill him. Also, when he was informed of the defeat of Israel and death of Saul and Jonathan at the hand of Philistines, David mourned for Saul, Jonathan, and the nation and army of Israel. He mourned for Saul in fulfillment of his responsibility to respect and honor the God-anointed king of Israel.

Reverence for Saul in Life

As we discuss in a previous study under Guided by Right and Just—David Spares Saul, David would not “lay a hand” on Saul or get into battle against him, because “who can stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless” [1 Samuel 26:9]? He understood that reverence for Saul in awe of God was “right and just” and represented a purpose superior to any other. Therefore, he chose a strategy of avoiding Saul or any battle against him in order to avoid any chance of stretching out his hand against the Lord’s anointed.

Crept up unnoticed
Sweet Publishing FreeBibleImages.org

Therefore, when David had opportunity to kill Saul on two occasions, he chose instead to withdraw to a safe distance and confront Saul verbally after leaving evidence of the close encounter. As we discuss in more detail in a previous study (Following God Schedule by Living in His Image), both situations appeared to present David with opportunity to gain a strategic advantage by eliminating Saul as an obstacle to his becoming king of Israel. Some of his followers urged him to take the advantage. However, David declined in each case and withdrew to a safe distance from Saul after leaving evidence of his presence, unnoticed by either Saul or his troops. He confronted Saul thereafter to explain he had opportunity but chose not to harm him. Also, he used the occasions to explain to his followers that he could not stretch out his hand against Saul because Saul deserved reverence as the sitting God-anointed king of Israel.

Honor for Saul at Death

Saul ends his life
Saul ends his life
Sweet Publishing FreeBibleImages.org

When David was informed of the death of Saul and Jonathan, he tore his clothes and wept, mourned, and fasted [2 Samuel 1:11–12]: “Then David and all the men with him took hold of their clothes and tore them. They mourned and wept and fasted till evening for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the army of the Lord and for the nation of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.” He rebuked and executed the man that claimed to have killed Saul: “Why weren’t you afraid to lift your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed” [2 Samuel 1:14]? Furthermore, he wrote a lament (the lament of the bow [2 Samuel 1:19–27]) in honor of Saul and Jonathan and ordered the lament be taught to the people of Judah.

Thus, David honored Saul in death as he did in life, despite Saul’s enmity toward him. His reverence for Saul in life and honor at death illustrate individual responsibility in human relationship is unidirectional and independent of the behavior of the other party.

Summary of What We Learned

Every person is individually accountable for their responsibility in any human relationship or event, independent and irrespective of others’ behavior.

God’s expectation and judgment of every person in a relationship or event depend on his specific assignment for the person and are independent of his expectation and judgment of the other party. He holds each person accountable to fulfill their role. He rewards those that do and is displeased with those that don’t, irrespective of what others do or fail to do.

We discuss Christ teaching in the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard and an example from David: based on his reverence for Saul in life and honor at death, not minding that Saul considered him an enemy and sought relentlessly to take his life.

More Information

You can download a PDF copy of the PowerPoint presentation of this bible study from PDF_LINK.

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