Obedience, Not Success

I like to peruse a few theological websites on Sundays in order to catch up on the recent posts and happenings in the Reformed circles. I ran across this article at Ligonier.org, Should Christians Refuse to Pay Taxes When They Are Used to Finance Abortions? by R.C. Sproul Jr.  This is a topic I often think about so I was curious to hear new thoughts on it. I have struggled with the thought of knowing my money is going to used for something that is immoral. This bothers my conscience. I find it hard to imagine standing before God and reconciling it. “Yes, murder is wrong, and yes, my money went to fund murder.” There are other aspects that I find hard to swallow as well, but I truly do desire to do what is right and I realize that my own reasoning is fallen and I can’t rely completely on what I “think” is right.

The most helpful statement in the whole post was this,

Theologians have long understood the principle that must be applied here- we are responsible for our own actions, not the actions of others.


I want to do more research on this, but I wonder what has been said in Austrian writings regarding this statement? I need to consider this further, and maybe I’m taking it in the wrong direction, but I wonder if this would fit in at all with the idea of methodological individualism that Mises developed. Just whenever anyone talks about action, I immediately think of praxeology and what the Austrians might have contributed to the topic.

I think I tend to be very much an idealist, always wanting to fight for justice and what is right. I get upset when I see a situation that I perceive is not just or right, I want to do something about it. This can range from intervening with my younger siblings if one is taking advantage of another to being ardently opposed to the immoral wars our government is waging in the Mideast. So I think that personally I feel this burden and responsibility to promote justice and righteousness as if the world depended on me to do it. I appreciated the above quote because it is such a freeing idea. The Bible is God’s instructions to us about what He requires from us. We don’t have to feel responsible for what happens after we do our duty. We don’t have to feel responsible to be perfect examples of justice. This is a fallen world. There will be injustice. We won’t be able to live completely and 100% consistently with the principles of justice and righteousness. There will be constant tension between what ought to be and what actually is. We just have to obey God and wait for Him to enact perfect justice on that great Judgement Day to come. While we ought to promote justice whenever and however we can, our responsibility to obey God comes first, we just have to trust that He will work it all out in the end.

I haven’t figured it out entirely in my head, there are still questions and problems I have that are keeping me from knowing exactly where I stand on this issue. But I definitely appreciated the article from R.C. Sproul Jr. and it has helped me understand what principles I need to keep in mind while trying to figure out my beliefs. So I’ll end with another quote from the article that sums up what I’m trying to say:

We are supposed to do what God commands. We are not responsible for the results of what we do. We are responsible to obey whatsoever God commands. We are called not to success, but to obedience.

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