Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions. (Airing daily on Hope 103.2 and Inspire Digital at 9am)
I like the simple story of Johnny at school who gets into trouble from his teacher:
- Where’s your homework?
- Sorry, sir, I couldn’t do it because there was too much noise at home.
- What? Noise all evening? What kind of noise?
Johnny said, It was the television, sir. It was too loud and I couldn’t do my homework. The teacher was trying to be helpful: Now Johnny. You could have asked them to turn down the volume, surely? No, I couldn’t, he replied. There was no-one else in the room.
The blame game—we play it all the time and blame someone or something else. We are quick to place the blame on others—to talk about what they didn’t do. It was George Bernard Shaw who once said: “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.
A mother bought some chocolate in the weekly grocery shopping because she liked eating some each day. But so did her four-year-old daughter. But she didn’t know when to stop and ate the whole packet and needed to explain what happened. Someone else in the house must have eaten it, she said. But there’s only you and me, mum said. And then the little girl said, I wish I had a baby brother. You see, we learn to pass the blame on very early in life, don’t we?
Blaming Others Will Not Change You
But when you think about it, all blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you. Society today is plagued with this mentality of it’s not my fault. Think about it; whenever anything goes wrong, or slower than planned, or doesn’t get finished at all, people’s fingers start to point. I’m sure we’re each guilty of doing it. Truly successful people don’t blame others when the going gets tough. They accept the responsibility and start looking for solutions.
Some of us can only explain ourselves in terms of blame. Of course, this only works when the result has been negative. In other words, if I am facing something hurtful, damaging, uncomfortable, unpleasant, etc., then it’s easy for me to blame somebody for the way life has turned out. I can blame people as easily as anybody else. It seldom works in reverse though. I’m not in the habit of ‘blaming’ others when things turn out OK for me.
Of course it’s not easy admitting to bad decisions, weak will, ignorance, misplaced trust, lack of ability, or general stupidity. Frankly, I’d rather blame somebody else. But blaming others prevents me from learning, improving, changing, overcoming, and moving on. Blame gets you stuck right where you are. Of course other people do bad things that affect us, and when they do it’s their fault. Of course bad circumstances happen that none of us can control, and when those things happen, we can rightly say, “I got that black eye when the door swung shut on me before I could dodge it.”
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The Plank In Our Eye
It’s one thing to correctly assess the situations of one’s life and quite another to get stuck putting the fault elsewhere. Blame isn’t a very productive kind of thing. Personal responsibility, however, is quite another thing. We need to learn to be personally responsible.
In Matthew chapter 7, during his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke passionately about people being careful not to judge one another. Beginning in verse 3 (NIV), he said: “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.”
Jesus wasn’t being very subtle with this particular message, was he? It was about as subtle as getting hit with a 2×4 plank. It is very clear that he expects us to look inside ourselves first before we move forward to blame others. We need to think again.
Going around and telling others where they come up short is easy, isn’t it? There are certainly no shortage of people willing to do so, that’s for sure. Closely examining that face staring back at us in the mirror in the morning, now that’s tough.
Jesus is the only person who has ever walked the earth with the moral authority to pass judgement.