Since God created man (Gen. 1:26-27; 2:7) and everything each person has belongs to God (I Chron. 29:11, 14; Ps. 24:1), then every person is individually responsible to God for everything he does. There are four terms in the Bible used to describe this responsibility: steward, overseer, giving account, and reckoning.
A steward, or manager, is an individual who is entrusted with some property or money and is expected to invest it so it will increase and gain profit for the owner. The steward in Matthew 20:8 was a manager to whom the owner entrusted, or committed, the care of his vineyard.
In Luke 16:1-8, there was a steward over a rich man’s property. The steward in Luke 12:42 is the person who was given the position of administrator of the domestic affairs of a family or business. A pastor is described as a steward of God (Titus 1:7-9).
The underlying factor of all these examples is that the steward is always responsible to the one who gave him the position. All Christians are to be “good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (I Pet. 4:10), and of the “mysteries of God” (I Cor. 4:1).
A similar term in the Bible is overseer, or one who oversees things. In I Chronicles 9:29, it meant to exercise authority over the Levites in the temple, or those who managed the ones who carried materials or cut wood or stone to build the temple (II Chron. 2:2, 18).
When the walls and gates of Jerusalem were being rebuilt, there was an overseer of the Benjamites (Neh. 11:9), of the mighty men (Neh. 11:14), and of the Levites (Neh. 11:22). Twelve men were to oversee the proper distribution of the tithes (II Chron. 31:12-13), and there were overseers of those who were repairing the temple (II Chron. 34:12-13, 17).
Probably the most recognized overseer was Joseph. He was made overseer, or appointed over, Potiphar’s house (Gen. 39:4-5), the prison he was put in (Gen. 39:21-23), and eventually over Pharaoh’s house and all of Egypt (Gen. 41:38-43).
The Bible teaches that every individual will have to give an account to God (Rom. 2:6, I Pet 4:5).
First, they will be judged by God based on whether or not they accepted or rejected Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. This will determine whether they “may be accounted worthy to escape” the tribulation by being raptured (Luke 21:36). Those who received Him will also be judged for rewards based on their faithfulness and motives at the judgment seat of Christ (I Cor. 3:8-15, II Cor. 5:10). Every believer will stand before the judgment of Christ to give account of himself to God (Rom. 14:10-12). Also, every minister will give an account to God for his ministry (Heb. 13:17). Those who rejected Jesus as their Savior will be judged at the great white throne judgment according to their works (Rev. 20:11-15), give an account for every idle word (Matt. 12:36), and will be cast into the lake of fire with the devil and his angels (Rom 2:16, Rev. 20:11-15).
To reckon is another similar term. It is used to describe the figuring of value of an indentured servant (Lev. 25:50), and a field dedicated to the Lord (Lev. 27:18, 23). The Levites reckoned, or figured, the value of the part of the offerings they received that they should give to the Lord (Num. 18:27). The sons of Merari were responsible for the instruments of the tabernacle (Num. 4:32). The parable of the talents is another example when the Lord returned and reckoned with each servant about what they had done with the talents they had been given (Matt. 25:14-19).
So each of these terms—steward, overseer, giving account, and reckoning—are biblical examples of God ultimately requiring every person to be responsible to Him.
There are two reasons why individual responsibility to God is important. First, there is great pressure to not look at people as individuals but as members of and dependent on groups or communities, which minimizes the importance of individuals and their responsibility to God. Second, it is essential that freedoms come from God and not from man. If those freedoms come from people, then the same people who give those freedoms can take them away. Both are contrary to the Bible as shown by the examples of individual responsibility in the Bible.