Shifting Blame

As I look back on my life, I can see how I tried to shift the blame or point the finger at someone or something else.  I see it in my kids sometimes, how they are quick to blame the other person for their own wrong doing instead of owning up to it.  “Well she made me do it.”  “Well he was the first one.”

Maybe they picked it up from me?  Because I have thought these things before…

  • The reason I am struggling with this sin is his fault.
  • It is because of you that I am so angry or anxious.
  • If it wasn’t for that situation, I would have avoided this all together.
  • The cause of my sin is because of her or him.

But I don’t think my kids picked it up from me.  I actually think they got it somewhere else.  And I did too.  We’re all born with this disease of shifting blame because of our sinful and wayward hearts.  Shifting blame has been around ever since the fall of man.  Read this…

Genesis 3:8-13

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”  10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”  11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”  The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Adam tries to take the easy path and just point at Eve as the reason for his sin.  And then Eve does the same thing, and points her finger and shifts the blame toward the serpent.  And you and I are still prone to the same pattern of shifting the blame and not owning our sin.

  • The reason this communication broke down is entirely your fault.
  • I am only mad because you made me mad.
  • I would have been more patient had you not made me late.
  • I saw my Dad live this way, so I guess this is just who I am and I can’t change.
  • There is no way it was my child’s fault.  It had to be because of the other kid, or because of the teacher/coach.

A wise friend of mine (Keith Funk) once loved to say, “When you point your finger at the other person, there are three fingers pointing back and you.”  It was his way to remember that when he was prone to blame others, he had to first own his part.

Jesus spoke of this in His sermon on the mount using the illustration of a speck and a plank.

Matthew 7:3-5

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

One application of this truth is for us to understand that we are not without sin, and we must get our own hearts before our God on a regular basis to be examined, searched and exposed.  When we are tempted to shift the blame, we first choose humility and look at our own hearts that are prone to wander.

Humility recognizes its fault in the mess.  In Psalm 51, King David’s sin has just been exposed, and he is suddenly aware of how he has sinned against his God.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; acccording to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

He is not shifting the blame or trying to hide.  It is clear, he is aware of his own sin.  And then in verse 16-17, he is reminded of what God desires.

16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.  17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

God’s heart for His children is for them to pursue humility by the grace of God.  To own our part.  To not simply point the finger, and miss the fact that three are pointing back at us.

Is there a relational conflict that you are trying to shift the blame on right now?  Is there a habitual sin that you are holding onto, still blaming the generation before you?

Am I saying that we never get sinned against?  Not at all.  I am saying though that we are not free and clear, and must own our sin.  This week, pursue humility, be quick to own your sin, and avoid the temptation to shift the blame.  By doing so, our God will be worshipped, and we will experience His amazing grace.