In an airship the authority is somewhat divided between the captain, the first officer, and the flight dispatcher at the landing field. And the second officer can relieve and take the place of the first officer when he so desires. But in the flight of the soul through time there is only one person in authority—and that is thyself.
One sign which a traveler can read frequently on a cross-country automobile trip was this— "Travel at your own risk." Sometimes it was introduced by another statement—"Road under construction," or "Bridge condemned." By posting these signs the commissioners not only warned the traveler to be cautious and careful but also absolved the county or state of responsibility in case of accident on that part of the road so designated. If the traveler came to harm on the road, he could bring no suit for damages. He was traveling at his own risk.
"Travel at your own risk." In the long journey of life which we are all taking, every man travels at his own risk. You
are the responsible party. Your friends, your neighbor, your parents, the community in which you live, your schools, your teachers, your relatives are not the responsible ones, but you yourself. You do the traveling, and you incur the risks, whatever they are. A proverb expresses this truth in familiar language: "Every man has his own life to live."
Daniel Webster, asked what was the greatest thought that had passed through that wonderful brain, answered "My accountability to God." Life is a great journey, with wonderful goals which flash through cloud and fog and mist their glorious invitations. But we must travel carefully and live as accountable to God. Not in the sense in which William Henley meant his well-known lines from "Invictus," but in the high and solemn and scriptural sense,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
A consecrated Sunday school teacher came to her pastor. She taught a class of young college boys. Twenty-four of them were unsaved. She sat speechless and sobbing before the pastor. "What is the matter?" asked the pastor. She exclaimed, "My boys, twenty-four of them, are standing on my heart like the weight of a lost world. I did not sleep any last night. I cannot eat. I must have them or I cannot live!" Prayer followed, prayer immersed in tears. In less than two weeks, every one of those twenty-four boys gave glowing, personal testimonies about the saving power of the Lord Jesus!—L. R. Scarborough.
Daniel Webster, the great statesman of other years, was once asked, "Mr. Webster, what is the most sobering, searching thought that ever entered your mind?" Without hesitancy, the staunch statesman replied, "My personal accountability to God!"—Selected.
A temptation against which every Christian who occupies a place of trust should be on his guard is the temptation to minimize his individual responsibility—to lose himself in numbers. It is this attitude that is responsible for much of the disappointment in the church. An Arab sheik once gave a banquet for his son, and invited his friends to share his hospitality. His one request was that each guest bring a small skin of wine as his contribution to the feast. On the appointed day when the skins were emptied, it was found, to the mortification of host and guest alike, that all contained water. Each guest had reasoned that, since everyone else would bring wine, he might be able to make a substitution and not be detected.—Selected.
"Yours must be a very responsible position," said a traveler to a switchman who had charge of the switches where five lines converge. "Yes," was the reply, "but it is as nothing compared to yours as a Christian."—Christian Herald.
Dr. W. H. Griffith Thomas once interpreted responsibility to some friends as made up of two words, "response," "ability." "Man's response and God's ability." Charles H. Spurgeon once remarked to a young minister who complained of the smallness of his congregations, "They are as large perhaps as you will want to give an account for in the day of judgment."—Selected.
What is our attitude toward our responsibilities? Responsibility for the Christian has been defined as 'our response to God's ability'. There are five possible attitudes:
1. We may shirk our responsibilities:
2. we may shelve them, hoping that some time or other we shall be able to fulfill them:
3. we may shoulder them, and wear ourselves out bearing their full weight:
4. we may shed them after having made an attempt to fulfill them: or
5. we may share them. It is in following the fifth course that we shall best be able to fulfill the law of Christ and bring glory to God.
(Gal. 6. 2-6)
Daniel Webster was once asked, "What is the most important thought you ever entertained?" He replied, after a moment's reflection, "The most important thought I ever had was my individual responsibility to God."—Selected