Read: Proverbs 24:12
If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this’, does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?
Sometime back, Bits and Pieces magazine published a list called “The Ten Most Used Excuses”. It went like this:
- I forgot.
- No one told me to go ahead.
- I didn’t think it was that important.
- Wait until the boss comes back and ask him.
- I didn’t know you were in a hurry for it.
- That’s the way we’ve always done it.
- That’s not in my department.
- How was I to know this was different?
- I’m waiting for an O.K.
- That’s his job—not mine.
The fact is, we’re pretty good at making excuses. Any parent knows that our bent toward shifting responsibility starts out very early on in our children. And we continue it all the way through our school years (“the dog ate my homework”; “but you didn’t tell us the test would be today”) right into our adult lives (“I’m this way because of my parents”; “I have post-traumatic stress disorder”; “but officer, I didn’t know the speed limit was 30”).
We come by it pretty naturally, I think. Our propensity to make excuses and shift blame goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve sinned. When God confronted Adam, he blamed Eve, and God, by extension (“the woman you gave me, she made me eat it”), and Eve blamed the devil (“the serpent deceived me”) and from that point on, scape-goating became the national pastime of the human race.
But the blame-game is actually a very dangerous thing. It is extremely counterproductive to our emotional, intellectual, relational, physical and spiritual health. Why is it so bad? For starters,
It reduces us to chronic victims
It is dishonesty in its most basic form
It postpones growth and healing
It gives the devil a stranglehold on our lives
It invites the judgment of God
It fails to deal with the real problem.
What the writer of this proverb is telling us in essence is “cowboy up, pardner—you, I and God know where the blame lies—so the sooner you own up to our own junk the better off you’ll be!”
So how can you “cowboy up” to your junk? Three things:
To begin with, simply make the connection when something is amiss in your life. It is up to you to figure out the real reason why stuff happens. By the way, God will give you insight if you bother to ask him—and are willing to listen.
Next, just refuse to blame any longer. Simple as that, just sacrifice the scapegoat and be done with it.
Finally, take personal responsibility. Become a student of your mistakes, learn from the things life throws your way and choose to grow through them! When something unpleasant comes your way, identify its source, learn from it, get over it, and get on with it.
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
Do you have a pattern of excuse making or blame shifting? Acknowledgement is the first step to victorious Christian living. Check off any of the following areas where that tendency crops up:
- Have you ever overspent, or had a habit of poor financial management…been irresponsible with money, or purchased something that you couldn’t afford, then blamed God for a bank account that won’t pay the bills or allow you any breathing room?
- Have you been guilty of neglecting devotion to God–Bible reading, prayer, worship, regular church attendance–then wonder why God doesn’t seem to speak to you or answer you in times of distress?
- Have you withheld the Lord’s tithes, then blamed God for the loss of a job, or unhappiness in your vocation, or a rotten work environment?
- Have you been undisciplined in eating, sleeping and exercise patterns, then been disappointed with God that he doesn’t cure a physical challenge?
- Have you ever allowed negative personality traits to remain unchecked in your life then wonder why God doesn’t give you close friends…why you can’t seem to sustain a dating relationship…why God doesn’t bring a mate into your life?
- Other: ______________________________________________________________