Summary: A Challenge to take personal responsibility in our lives.
THE BUCK STOPS HERE
by Mike Kern
We’ve all heard of the sign on Pres. Harry Truman’s desk, The Buck Stops Here. What a noble sentiment for the leader of country… a willingness to deal with whatever came his way, an acceptance of responsibility for the burdens of the role he had been given by the American people. So unlike the dodging, lying and cover-ups from Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal, or our own Slick Willie through his numerous scandals.
But it’s not just American presidents who need to adopt that slogan, The Buck Stops Here. There is a desperate need for accountability today in the men and women of the church. The bible says that we are sons and daughters of the King, ambassadors for Christ and God’s people need to take responsibility for the position we’ve been entrusted with. Far too often, we look to shove off responsibility for our actions, to push the blame elsewhere for our sin and our failure to live up to the glorious calling on our lives. Instead of The Buck Stops Here, we pass the buck.
9 Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, "Where are you?" 10 So he said, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself." 11 And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?" 12 Then the man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate." 13 And the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."
I. Pass the Responsibility
[illus. – origin of “pass the buck”] From poker. A buck was a marker that indicated whose turn it was to deal. Passing the buck moved the deal onto the next player. The dealer bears responsibility for the hand. Nobody wants to deal!
A. RESPONSIBILITY TO OTHERS
One of the reasons crime has gotten so out of control in this country is found here. In the past, people banded together for safety. This is one of the main reasons, in early cultures, that villages and towns were formed. Even as recently as 100 years ago, people watched out for each other and accepted responsibility for the welfare of others around them. Today, that’s changed. Now, violent crimes take place in broad daylight surrounded by people who don’t want to get involved. Homes and cars are broken into and watching bystanders won’t even dial 911. The reason? It’s not my problem!
The church, too, has its innocent bystanders. God has saved you, clothed you in righteousness, made life bearable. Now, you stand around watching the devastating crime of sin perpetrated over and over in other lives and mumble to yourself, it’s not my problem!
But you miss an important point of Christianity. In Matthew, Jesus is being quizzed by the Pharisees and a lawyer asks him a question. “What is the greatest commandment in the law?” Jesus answers in Matt 22:37-40:
37 Jesus said to him, " ’You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ’You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
We have no problem with that “love the Lord your God” bit, but that “neighbor” stuff stops us cold. And who’s my neighbor anyway, the people who live on my street? If that was the biblical definition of neighbor here, we’d all fall short of our responsibility, but in reality, Christ is talking about something much bigger. In fact, He answers the question Himself in Luke 10. After discussing the law with another lawyer, the lawyer asks, “but who is my neighbor?” Fair question… Jesus answer?
30 Then Jesus answered and said: "A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ’Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ 36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?" 37 And he said, "He who showed mercy on him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."