Read Ezekiel 33:7-9
7 “Now,son of man,I am making you a watchman for the people of Israel. Therefore,listen to what I say and warn them for me. 8 If I announce that some wicked people are sure to die and you fail to tell them to change their ways,then they will die in their sins,and I will hold you responsible for their deaths. 9 But if you warn them to repent and they don’t repent,they will die in their sins,but you will have saved yourself. (NLT)
A watchman on the walls of an ancient city or town was responsible for warning its inhabitants of any approaching danger. If he so warned them and they didn’t heed his warning,then he could not be blamed for any damage done. If he failed to warn them,then he had to take responsibility.
Transferring this to alerting people to the realities of human wrongdoing and divine holiness,it is clear we have some responsibility. If we fail to remind people of such realities,then God holds us accountable. People may die separated from God and they bear responsibility for that,but we can’t escape rebuke. If,however,we do alert people to such realities and they dismiss our counsel,then we have done all we can.
We can’t take ultimate responsibility for the eternal destiny of everyone.
Perhaps this has a more general application. We can speak the truth to our children,our friends,our relatives. We can’t finally determine their response or their destinies.
We can warn,we can plead,we can advise,we can rebuke. We can’t ultimately control. We neither lazily let other people shipwreck their lives or frantically and singlehandedly push them free of rocks. We urge them to steer clear but we can’t take over the steering itself.