Freedom from False Responsibility

A number of years ago I spent copious amounts of time and energy trying to control the actions of those around me. They seemed to care little about their bad choices. The question I asked myself was, “Why did I care so much?”

The answer I came up with was the idea of false responsibility. I felt responsible for their wrong actions as if I would be blamed, punished and even judged for their behavior when I reached the judgment seat of Christ.

Where did such thinking come from? The Lord brought me back to my childhood. I was the oldest girl in our family of four boys and four girls. As the oldest girl, I often babysat for and/or was put in charge of my siblings.

When one of my younger brothers but especially sisters did something wrong, I was blamed and handed the responsiblity. “You’re the oldest,” “You were in charge,” and “You should have made sure they didn’t do wrong,” were messages I picked up from childhood and carried into adulthood.

Those misbehaving around me in my family and church family as an adult became like my childhood siblings. I felt responsible when they did wrong. It seemed it was my job to correct them and make them do the right thing. These efforts wore me out and caused havoc in relationships.  

Over time God convinced me I was not responsible for other Christians’ bad behavior–even my childrens’ or husband’s. He confirmed it wasn’t my job to change or make them do right. Yes, I could discipline my children, but when they reached adulthood, it was time to let go, which I’ve had great difficulty doing.

As I said last week, the verses in the Bible that seem to address codependency are in Galatians 6.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load” Galatians 6:2-5 NIV.

The first phrase of this section of Scripture seems to contradict the last phrase. In the King James Version I read:

“Bear ye one another’s burdens…For every man shall bear his own burden.” (verses 2 & 5)

In looking up “burdens” and “burden,” I discovered they have different meanings in the Greek. “Burdens” from Galatians 6:2 in Strong’s concordance means figuratively a “burden (some) weight.”

The word “burden” in Galatians 6:5 comes from a word that means figuratively “something carried, ie the cargo of a ship.”

As I look at these two kinds of burdens I see the first is a burden we help each other carry such as when we reach out to someone going through a difficult time and then when our hard time comes, that person reaches back. The other–someone’s cargo–is for him to carry. How right would it be if I cruised up to a ship and suddenly started taking off the cargo and putting it in my ship to carry?

God has been faithful to show me the difference between these two burdens in the circumstances of my life. Many times when I start to slip back into false responsibility I hear God whisper, “That’s not your responsibility.”  The more I heed those little whispers, the freer I’m becoming. And I’m learning that when I try to carry other people’s loads–the cargo God gave them to carry– they become weaker.

How about you? Is there someone in your life that you tend to feel an unhealthy responsibility for? Have you prayed about the root of the problem?Have you asked God how to be set free?

About elainecreasman

I am a freelance writer and inspirational speaker. Since 1986 I have led the Suncoast Christian Writers Group.
This entry was posted in Spiritual Growth and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Freedom from False Responsibility

  1. Christine says:

    Thank you for writing this. I have really been struggling with this over the past few days. Great explaination of the verses. It gave me a lot to think about.

  2. Jane Reece says:

    How you minister to me in such a timely manner! In therapy, I’m gaining knowledge that I have carried a huge load of false reponsibility since I was a young. We must carry our own loads. Many thanks for another taste of freedom.

  3. nancy conwell says:

    What a timely word! God knew just what I needed tonight! thank YOu Elaine!

  4. Mary Ardis says:

    Your illustration of taking a ship’s cargo from one capable of carrying it’s own cargo is an excellent way to help others understand co-dependency. I can almost hear the ship’s captain shouting out, “Why did you take my cargo from me? Didn’t you think I could handle my own cargo?” Thank you for taking the time to write this down. May your message from God reach many!

  5. Syvilla Geisendorfer says:

    When i first heard the phrase, sense of false responsibility,’ it was such a revelation. I too grew up feeling responsibile for younger brothers ans sisters. I was molested as a child too, and felt to blame, not only for my being molested but for ‘letting’ my two sisters be molested. When the Lord speaks to us i have always believed it is for a reason. My heart has been heavy lately with blame for my son being in prison, and then the Lord spoke to me through you. thank you for being that vessel. Syvilla

  6. Karen Edwards says:

    I tend to carry others burdens which has caused me great hinderance in reaching my full potential in God. I truly misinterpret forgiveness with false responsibility thinking that if I don’t bear the burdens, I haven’t forgiven. I have found a calm place right now about a past situation but keep toiling with hearing one preach about how forgiveness should be done and then start feeling as if I will miss out with God or wondering have I truly forgiven?

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