A husband and wife were playing in a golf tournament of mixed foursomes. Joe teed off and hit a tremendous drive down the middle of the fairway. Mary hit the second shot and sliced the ball into a grove of trees. Unfazed, Joe then made a brilliant recovery shot that bounced onto the green and stopped three feet from the pin. Mary poked at a putt, hit the ball too hard, and it ended up 20 feet past the hole. Joe lined up for the long putt and sank it.
Joe turned to Mary and calmly said, “Dear, we are going to have to do a little better. That was a par four, and we shot a bogey five.”
“Don’t blame me,” Mary snapped, “I only took two of the shots!”
Friends, as human beings we seem to have a tendency to try to blame others for mistakes we make. Through the book of Genesis, God tells us that this has been the case since the beginning of time. When the Lord confronted Adam for his disobedience in the Garden of Eden, Adam attempted to shift the blame. He said to God, “The woman you put here with me–she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it.” (Genesis 3:12) In other words, “Lord, what happened is Eve’s fault because she gave me the forbidden fruit. And maybe it’s your fault because you gave her to me. But it is certainly not my fault!” Eve tried to shift the blame as well. When the Lord asks her, “What is it you have done?” she replies, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” The serpent would no doubt have preferred to shift the blame as well, but as the old saying goes, “he didn’t have a leg to stand on.”
This pattern of attempting to shift blame continues throughout the pages of the Bible and human history. It continues in our society today. That was especially evident a few years ago in the aftermath of the horrific destruction of hurricane Katrina. Finger pointing seemed to abound. Spurred on by the media, local government officials blamed federal government officials, federal officials blamed local officials, Republicans blamed Democrats, Democrats blamed Republicans, black people blamed white people, and white people blamed black people. Now, in an effort to prevent a reoccurrence of a tragic situation, there is nothing wrong with identifying specific failures and who might bear responsibility for those failures. Yet, this is something which ought to be done with care and restraint and certainly should not be used as a tool for political advantage.
Friends, whether we are talking about a national disaster or our personal lives, our response should be the same. We should accept responsibility for our own actions, we should be slow to point a finger of blame at someone else, and our focus should be doing what we can to improve the situation.
Rev. Dan Erickson
Senior Pastor, Chisholm Baptist Church