I play golf every Thursday with my friend, Jimmy Newson. Jimmy loves to tell stories when we play. His favorite story is about his good friend Jim Bolding, who is a pastor in our town. One day they were playing together and came up on a group that was teeing off. One of the guys hit a lousy tee shot. In anger, he yelled out God’s name in vain. Everyone at the tee box knew Jim Bolding was a pastor and looked at him to see his reaction. Jim calmly said, “I don’t think God had anything to do with that tee shot.” We can say what we want about God when we are upset, but we cannot blame God for our sins and wrong decisions.
We all know the blame game. We have all participated in the blame game. The first chapters in the book of Genesis feature the blame game. God has told the man and the woman in the garden to eat freely from all the trees except for one that was forbidden. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God said the day you eat from that tree you will die. The first couple did not obey God, but chose to eat from the forbidden tree.
God came to the man, “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” (Genesis 3:11-12) Adam blamed God for this transgression. The woman you gave me. It was the Lord’s fault for giving him the woman that led to this sin.
The first sin from the first man was followed up with the first act of blame. This was an attempt to cover up his sin. This was his excuse for sin. It has been said many times how the cover up is worse than the sin itself.
The natural instinct of our sinful nature is to play the blame game. However, we never win at the blame game. It only makes matters worse. Blame is a form of excuse. It is an expression of concealing our responsibility.
Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Proverbs 28:13
We avoid the blame game when we take responsibility for our life and actions we have taken. In the recovery world, taking responsibility is one of the key steps toward recovery. In ministry, we can easily fall into the blame game. We can only take responsibility for our own life. We cannot play God. It does no good to blame God. We confess our sins period. Instead of blaming others we entrust them into God’s hands. We pray for them. We ask God to bless them. We do good to them. This is the message from Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.
We can spend our time playing the blame game when it comes to the president, politics, church problems, financial issues, the pandemic and on and on. God has a better way for us. As pastors we are called to set the example for others to follow.
Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
I Peter 5:2-4
We are wonderful examples when we choose serving others over lording it over others. We follow in the footsteps of Jesus when we choose humility over the pride. We are the best example when we own up to our stuff rather than blaming others.