Each One Shall Bear His Own Load

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
Traveling on Asian roads is always an adventure, and continues to amaze. The density and variety of “traffic” is incredible. There are actually fewer motor vehicles in the countries I visit, and the majority of these are buses and trucks, not private passenger vehicles (cars and minivans). But the lesser numbers of these is more than compensated for. There are motorcycles, three-wheel “mini-taxis” and other small motorized conveyances. Then there are the rickshaws, bicycles, oxcarts, hand drawn “push carts” delivering heavy loads, and many other forms of transportation. And, always, the roads are used by pedestrians and a multitude of bystanders and animals. The roadsides are often the only available pasture in this heavily cultivated region, so cows and goats are tied out along the way and often stand or lie in the road itself. Houses and businesses are built literally up to the right of way, so there is often little or no place for people to gather and visit except in the road. Vehicles come right upon them before anyone moves to make right of way.
Therein lies a recent observation. I have long puzzled over why bystanders do not get out of the way earlier. I have also frequently noticed the apparent total lack of caution as pedestrians and cyclists move out into the road with no apparent preliminary look for traffic. At the sound of the horn of an approaching car or bus there is great surprise and near panic. Don’t they realize the danger presented by traffic? I have recently come to a conclusion in this regard.
Every citizen and animal treats the roads as one having just as much right and need to be on it as anyone or anything else. If a truck, bus, or car is coming, it is the vehicle’s responsibility to announce itself and provide a warning, so that the pedestrian or bystander can know to make way. In some ways, this is logical and recognizes the fact that the vast majority of the population for which roads are built will not use them for motorized traffic. But there is a subtle, negative component of this reasoning as well.
By disregarding any concept of caution and watchfulness, the person on the road is in effect saying, “My safety is your responsibility. The car or bus driver must watch out for me and avoid me, and I am free to act as irresponsibly and carelessly as I choose.” This is a general apparent rejection of personal responsibility that is sobering.
The line between accountability for oneself and responsibility for others is a fine one, and often difficult to draw. Paul alludes to this difficulty with these almost contradictory admonitions:
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ …. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load” (Galatians 6:2,4,5).
Jesus requires his followers to love their neighbors as themselves (Matthew 22:39). We are responsible for others, to see their needs and to help them as we can. But he also requires that we be responsible for our own actions. The servants who were entrusted with the master’s property were accountable to him for their use of it (Matthew 25:14-30). When one refused to accept that responsibility, Jesus taught the principle, “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away” (v. 29).
Personal accountability is at the very heart of the Biblical doctrine of justice. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:10).
Because we are creatures of choice, we are accountable. We will answer for our actions in this life. Justice may be imperfect on earth, but there will come a time of perfect accounting, when every one will answer for every thought, word, and deed. May we be prepared.

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