Rights Are Useless Without Responsibility

“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!”

– Philippians 2:8

If you’ve been reading my devotions or listening to my sermons for any length of time, you’ve heard me talk about Dallas Willard, who was a professor at USC and also a great theologian. While he was in no way judgmental and was always on people’s side, Dallas wrote a lot about our slogan-driven society, once saying that we are “smothered in slogans.” As a philosopher who thought deeply about the mysteries of life and spirituality, he especially loved to pick on bumper stickers. For instance, when he would see something about a random act of kindness or a senseless act of beauty, he would respond by saying that there really is no such thing. No act of kindness is random — it’s always purposeful and thoughtful, and nothing beautiful is senseless — it’s very much intelligent. Though there were other phrases besides these that bugged him, nothing got his goat as much as the exhortation to “Get up and stand up for your rights!” Instead, he wanted a bumper sticker that said, “Get up and stand for your responsibilities!” Why? Because rights mean nothing in a society where people are not responsible. How are you going to uphold your rights if you live in a world where individuals believe only in themselves and not in the dignity of other people? Rights are great, but unless they are sustained and maintained by responsibility, they become worthless. 

Friend, I encourage you to be a person who takes responsibility before claiming your rights. Assume the same mind and attitude that was in Jesus when He humbly and quietly went about His Father’s business, knowing that He had a mission to carry out. While the Savior had rights as the King of Heaven, He was more concerned with taking responsibility for the ministry God had entrusted to Him. By submitting Himself to the greater plan, He secured the freedom of all of humanity and gave them the right to become children of God. With that right sealed for you on the cross, you can go forth confidently and take responsibility for all the good things your Lord has called you to accomplish! 


Jesus, I am blessed by my right to be called your child, and I want to take responsibility for my life in response.


Do you agree that rights are useless without a culture of responsibility? Why or why not?

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