The Critical Difference Between Being Responsible “for” Others and Responsive “to” Them

August 27, 2018

Mark 3:1-6

Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. 2 Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. 3 Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”

4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.

5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus. 


35. The Holy Spirit always brings life. Always. When the Holy Spirit inhabits a human person, the person becomes a force for goodness and life. We see this in perfection through the life of Jesus.

It’s a good moment to be reminded of our big question through the Gospel of Mark. What does it look like when the Holy Spirit fills the human spirit? Jesus reveals this to us in complete perfection.

36. No matter where Jesus goes, the Holy Spirit constantly alerts him to human need. In today’s text, Jesus enters the synagogue and immediately notices the man with the withered hand. In fact, everywhere he goes he notices people in need. Who does that?

Children have a hard time looking away from people in need. The older we get, though, the easier it is to block them out. Why? Because we feel burdened by the needs of others. And herein lies the problem. We make the mistake of thinking we are responsible for other people, and because we can’t carry that burden, we protect ourselves from them. The easiest way to do this is to simply stop noticing them.

So what if we stopped feeling responsible “for” other people in need and began to approach them with the simple question of how the Holy Spirit might want to be responsive “to” their need through us? Sometimes, it’s as simple as “seeing” them as a fellow broken human being and not just a human need.

37. I don’t know about you, but when it comes to helping other people, I feel extremely limited in my capacity. This may surprise you. In becoming a single human being, God, who has no limitations, severely limited himself. Jesus was fully God and yet he was a single person and thereby accordingly limited. He could only be in one place in one time and he could only engage with a limited number of people each day. As a single human being he could not be present to the entire human race, but he could be profoundly responsive to the people he was with—and he was.

It gets better. A single person on an ordinary Friday is lifted up on a single Cross and buried in a single tomb and is raised from the dead and ascends into Heaven. He sent the Holy Spirit and as a result of this singular event, an unlimited number of people can receive the gift of salvation and eternal life.

Something happens when a single person becomes profoundly present to another person in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Human limitations become transcended by Divine Presence. The power of this not only blesses the the recipient but also the giver, and beyond that, the blessing extends to everyone who ever hears about it. Think about the impact these stories about Jesus are having on us two thousand years later.

People regularly write me and tell me stories along these lines about a person from their present or who has long since passed who was responsive to them in a very human way that had a Divine impact. Every time these stories are told, it’s like the miracle happens all over again.

The guy with the withered hand? He had no idea what would come of that day.


Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me. I know I’m not the solution to the needs of others. I want to be responsive to the Spirit’s initiative with the Spirit’s resources. Teach me to be responsive to, not responsible for. Melt me. Mold me. Fill me. Use me. For the glory of your name, Jesus. Amen.


What would it mean for you to be less responsible for other people and more responsive to them?

Subscribe to receive the Daily Text email.

Join the Daily Text Facebook group here.

Join the Daily Text Fasting Challenge here. Whenever you sign up, it will begin the following Tuesday.

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

Get my latest book, THE DOMINO EFFECT.
I write every day at THE SEEDBED DAILY TEXT.

Share today's Wake-Up Call!


WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion