Are you ever prone to lay the responsibility for your wrong actions or attitudes at the feet of other (past or present) people in your life? This tendency continually hounds my heart.
The Birth of Blame
One of the immediate effects of Adam and Eve’s decision to rebel against their Creator (Genesis 3:6) was guilt before God and the accompanying sense of shame (3:10). Among their tactics to evade shame’s stalking was blame shifting. This response to the weight of personal sin seems to have taken root in humanity’s sin “DNA” in all subsequent generations. How have you utilized blame to distance yourself from your shameful actions and attitudes?
First we hear Adam blame his wife and also blame God as the reason for his destructive choice (3:12). Eve then turns and points at the deceitful serpent as her scapegoat (3:13). The blaming habit entrenched itself deeply, but, sadly, did not and does not lead to relief or healing because our sin stains remain. Blame shifting is not a solution for resolving our broken patterns or escaping their consequences. Have you found genuine freedom by blaming others for your struggles?
A Better Way Than Blame
The humbling and happy news is that the LORD God provided what their blame shifting could not. Their path to restoration and freedom would come through depending on Him, not through evading, blaming, or shirking responsibility. God acted to give the mercy (they didn’t immediately die as promised in Gen. 2:17), the grace (He covered their nakedness through the death of a substitute – 3:21), and the promise (of a sin-crushing Savior – 3:15) that would actually cleanse their guilt and restore their relationship with God and one another.
The same God who responded to Adam and Eve’s wrongdoing with mercy, grace, and Gospel promises is ready to be a better solution to our crooked reactions than blame will ever be.
Sometimes life circumstances and/or other people’s sinful actions cause genuine difficulties and faulty response mechanisms in our lives. I’ve known couples whose multiple miscarriages and the attached grief have resulted in fear of further pregnancy attempts. This is not a sinful response, and it calls for tender healing via Gospel-saturated community and teaching. However, if that grief and fear is allowed to morph into idolatry, sinful escapism, adultery, bitterness toward God, or a host of other sinful reactions then some would seek to justify their wrongdoing by blaming the painful circumstance.
Do you try to justify wrongdoing by blaming circumstances or other people’s foolishness?
Hear this humbling yet happy good news! The same God who responded to Adam and Eve’s wrongdoing with mercy, grace, and Gospel promises is ready to be a better solution to our crooked reactions than blame will ever be. We are invited to transformation of our attitudes and actions through Christ rather than spinning our tires endlessly in the muddy ditch of blame.
4 Ways Blame Tempts
Let us be careful about blaming a third party for our actions with a second party.
We might see a father blame his hard day at work for the reason he screamed at his kids. In the Bible, we see King David (2 Samuel 11) attempt to shift the blame of Bathsheba’s pregnancy (second party) onto Uriah (third party) by sending Uriah home with hopes that they would sleep together. Humbling yet happily God’s response of confronting and addressing King David’s adultery was a far better solution that resulted in true transformation.
Let us shrink away from blaming others for our malicious prejudices against them.
Those who differ in lifestyle, parenting choices, ethnic habits, and voting allegiances are made in the image of God and in need of grace just as much as us. In the Bible, we see Jonah (Jonah 1-4) blame the hated Ninevites for his racism and disobedience. Humbling yet happily God’s pursuing Jonah into repentance and obedience was a far better solution that resulted in salvation for Jonah and the city of Nineveh.
Let us guard our hearts against blaming God of wrongdoing when His providence permits difficulty to cross our paths.
Life’s greatest pains and griefs indeed present severe temptation to assert our wisdom over the Lord’s. In the Bible, we see Martha’s heartbroken attempt to blame Jesus’ travel schedule for her brother’s death (John 11). Humbling yet happily Jesus’ tenderness and compassion was a far better solution that brought about hope and healing.
Let us distance ourselves from attempts to blame others for our actions and attitudes that are in violation of Scripture.
It is not your husband’s fault that you can’t control your tongue, your mother’s fault that you remain unforgiving, or your childhood friend’s fault that you can’t stop looking at porn. Many factors do powerfully contribute to our current choices, but God wonderfully offers all that is necessary for us to “live new.” In the Bible, we see the Jewish religious leaders attempt to blame Jesus for their hate-filled actions that led to His crucifixion. Humbling yet happily Jesus’ bloody, sacrificial forgiveness of those responsible for His crucifixion (Luke 23:34) was the path that opened a far better resolution.
What matters for your freedom, today and ultimately, is that there is God of mercy, grace, and Gospel promises that can cleanse your guilt and shame in a true way.
Beloved friends, for you to find freedom it doesn’t matter whose fault it is that you act wrongly, react wrongly, or interact wrongly. (This does not diminish any other person’s sinful actions or need to repent!) What matters for your freedom, today and ultimately, is that there is God of mercy, grace, and Gospel promises that can cleanse your guilt and shame in a true way because He has carried your grief and sorrows and sins in His body on the cross. He has risen from the dead and pours His new-life-resurrection power into those (Romans 8:11, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 2:20, 2 Peter 1:3) who surrender their lives to Him…humbly and happily. This is the better path than blame.
Blame can’t heal sin’s stain,
Jesus’ blood makes clean again.
Blame won’t remove guilt’s chain,
Those in Christ holy remain.
by: Thomas Gold
Thomas is a pastor at RSBC. He yearns to join others in fighting for freedom from internal and external evil and pain. He is married to Janice and happy to be raising their six children together.