Do You Beg Off?
MANY are the ways in which people keep begging off from accepting responsibility. For example, the New York Times, February 3, 1969, reported that upward of 15,000 husbands and fathers were declared delinquent by New York City’s Welfare Department. In the past few years these men have failed to pay for the support of their wives and children as ordered by the Family Court. Together they were in arrears to the extent of $26 million. They begged off from fulfilling their obligations.
And there are many other examples. Abandoning of infants at the doors of hospitals or church buildings by unwed mothers is a common instance of begging off from accepting the responsibility for having brought a child into the world. The numberless unwed teen-age fathers, by and large, have begged off from accepting any responsibility for having sired a human creature.
Today there is even a movement afoot that would make begging off from obligations legal. Some insurance associations wish to abandon what is known as the “fault concept” in the case of auto accidents. However, as Trial magazine of February–March, 1969, reported, the American Bar Association went on record at a recent convention as condemning this tendency. It upheld the fault concept: that to the extent an automobile driver is at fault in an accident he can be held liable for the harm caused by it.
We all need to be on guard against the tendency to beg off. Why? Because fallen human nature is prone to go according to the lines of least resistance, one of which is begging off from fulfilling one’s obligations or from accepting responsibility. At times this begging off may be known only to ourselves—and to God. It may well be that the Hebrew prophet Jonah alone knew of his begging off from the commission to warn the great city of Nineveh of its impending doom as commanded by his God Jehovah. But God did not let him get away with it!—Jonah 1:1–3:10.
The Creator purposed that humans shoulder responsibility. That is why he endowed us with a mind, with the ability to reason, and with a conscience, able to distinguish between right and wrong. It might be said that we are responsible for all the good we are able to do.
Marriage is filled with challenges in regard to duty. A marriage may have more tribulation by far than either mate bargained for. What will one do? Take the line of least resistance by begging off, suing for a separation or a divorce? More often than not the right and loving thing to do would be to heed the advice of the apostle Paul: “Are you bound to a wife? Stop seeking a release.” (1 Cor. 7:27) Those who remain true to their word in this or any other relationship are commended by the psalmist David: “O Jehovah, who will be a guest in your tent? . . . He [who] has sworn to what is bad for himself, and yet he does not alter.” Yes, God approves of those who stand by their word regardless of the cost, those who do not readily beg off.—Ps. 15:1, 4.
Are you a parent? Then you have a twofold obligation in this regard. On the one hand, you have the obligation to instill in your children right principles and habits, such as honesty and orderliness. Do not let them beg off; do not let them get away with things by pleading, “Do I have to do that?” And on the other hand, you have the obligation of setting a good example. Perhaps more than anything else, failure of parents to implement their instruction by right example accounts for the generation gap.
In particular should the Christian minister be on guard against begging off, either by failing to fulfill his obligations or by refusing to accept responsibility. He has the obligation to study God’s Word, to associate with fellow Christians at congregational assemblies and to share in the field ministry. He may not beg off from these basic obligations because of love of pleasure, love of ease or fear of man. He is a steward of his capacities, powers and opportunities and must be faithful to his stewardship.—1 Cor. 4:1, 2.
Then again, there are calls for full-time preaching at home and abroad. There are opportunities for serving where the need for Christian ministers is greater. There is also the call to serve one’s Christian brothers in some capacity. Many are responding, but still there are those who, apparently, beg off for no good reason. Could you heed the call to serve more fully? Have you begged off from accepting responsibility for little or no good reason? These are soul-searching questions that many Christian ministers would do well to ask themselves. Of today, even more than of Jesus’ day, it can be said: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few.” (Matt. 9:37) Do not be like those who begged off from attending a “grand evening meal” that Jesus spoke about in a parable.—Luke 14:16-24.
Yielding to the tendency to beg off can have serious consequences, such as loss of happiness, if not also loss of life. That is why the apostle Paul warned: “See that you do not beg off from him who is speaking. For if they did not escape who begged off from him who was giving divine warning upon earth, much more shall we not if we turn away from him who speaks from the heavens. Wherefore . . . let us continue to have undeserved kindness, through which we may acceptably render God sacred service with godly fear and awe.”—Heb. 12:25, 28.
What will help you not to beg off from obligations? Love of God, with all one’s heart, mind, soul and strength, and loving one’s neighbor as oneself will prove to be of the greatest help. Appreciation of the urgency of the times in which we are living will also help. And so will appreciating the immediate and eventual rewards from not begging off. And what are they? Peace of mind, satisfaction, contentment and God’s approval resulting in everlasting life.—Mark 12:29-31.