Devotion for the Week...
Have you ever noticed how people tend to put the blame on other people, or even things, when something goes wrong? "This tool is no good," or "She did this, so I had to do that," or simply, "It's not my fault!"
Sometimes the fault does lie with the other person, or with the tool we're using. Lots of times, though, the fault is really our own and we're just trying to put the blame somewhere else, anywhere else.
Shifting the blame isn't new, of course. In fact, I found it interesting that the Isrealites complained to Moses, putting the blame on him, in Numbers 20 when their problems weren't at all his fault, as you'll see.
Here's a recap of what had happened leading up to that point...the Isrealites had been living in Egypt as slaves and then God sent Moses to lead them out to the land God had promised to their ancestors. The people followed Moses, but they did more than a little complaining along the way. Finally, they arrived at the edge of the Promised Land and Moses sent in spies to check out the land.
When they returned, most of the spies said the land was amazing, but the people who lived there were so intimidating that there was no way the Isrealites would be able to defeat them. Two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, disagreed, saying that with God's help they could certainly prevail, but the people would not listen. Their complete lack of faith angered God, who condemned them to wander in the wilderness for 40 years, which is what they were doing in Numbers 20, when they arrived in a place where there was no water for them to drink.
“They quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord! Why did you bring the Lord’s community into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink" (vv.3-5)
Whine, whine, whine. Would they really have preferred to still be slaves in Egypt?
And why exactly are they still wandering in the wilderness rather than settling into their new homes (with perfectly good wells) in the Promised Land? Oh, right, because they wouldn't trust God.
Moses wasn't responsible for their time in the wilderness. He hadn't been the one to turn against God and doubt God's power. The blame rested entirely on their own shoulders. But it was easier to blame Moses than to accept responsibility themselves.
Of course, putting the blame on someone else wasn't new, even then. Adam and Eve both shifted the blame way back in the Garden of Eden. When confronted by God about their disobedience, Adam said, "The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it" (Genesis 3:12) and Eve said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate" (v. 13).
It's not my fault!
How much easier life feels when everything that goes wrong is someone else's fault. It is much harder to admit we've done wrong, or that blame for our problem rests with no one but ourselves. But it is only when we can admit the wrong we've done that we begin to escape the 'wilderness' it has put us in.
First, we can only ask for forgiveness (from God, from others and even from ourselves) if we are able to admit that we were wrong. If we're still trying to justify ourselves, we won't see that we have done anything that requires forgiveness.
Then, it is only when we acknowledge that our actions or attitude were wrong that we can keep from repeating the wrong over and over again. I don't know about you, but I do enough new things wrong that I don't need to be repeating the old wrongs!
Next time we're tempted to blame someone else for our problems, maybe we should pause and take a good hard look at our own actions first.