Today’s post is another ‘from the archives’ but one that I feel is important. Too often we find ourselves in situations where fingers are pointing in every direction and no one is taking responsibility. Owning up to mistakes and apologizing seems to be becoming a lost art in our culture, but its one that is critical. We actually have an entire school of thought opposite to this that says if we teach kids to apologize and confess that they were or did wrong that their self esteem could be harmed. That’s ridiculous. Teaching anyone, especially children, that they are not responsible for their actions produces dangerous and disastrous consequences on a larger scale the older they get.
So, take some time now to look at your family and ask: Do we point fingers, or do we operate transparently in our home? Do we do what’s in our best interests even when it hurts others, or do we look out for others interests in what we say and do?
In Gen. 3 we find the story of the fall of mankind. I encourage you to grab a Bible, sit down with your family, and read the story together. Talk about the things that stand out to each of you as you read it. Here are some things that stand out to me:
- Adam and Eve were fully aware of what they were supposed to do, and yet they willfully and of their own accord, decided to disobey the command of the Lord.
Now, this may seem obvious, but so many people miss it. And the reason is that we do the same thing… I call it the ‘sin of best interests.’ That’s when we know we shouldn’t do something but we do it anyway because we justify in our mind that it is somehow in our best interests (or the best interests of someone else). Let me give you a quick example: Forget the fact that its wrong to break the law, that we could get a ticket, or that we could kill someone, when speeding is in our best interests, for whatever the reason, we do it. Its illegal, it can be dangerous, but we are in a hurry or we are impatient, so we justify it as OK, because it is ‘in our best interests.’
This happens with children all the time. They find themselves in situations where a lie seems to be in their best interests, because they don’t want to get in trouble and have someone upset with them. However, if we teach our children clearly from the beginning that sins of best interest are still, indeed, sins and that they displease God and have serious consequences in the end, then we are doing our part to combat the mentality that its OK to justify sin.
2. Adam and Eve tried to shift the blame for their sin.
Its the classic example. both of them were caught. They sinned, then tried to hide behind a bush from the very God who MADE the bushes. God doesn’t ask the question ‘where are you’ because He doesn’t know. He asks because He is trying to give them an opportunity to fess up. But Adam immediately tries to shift the blame to Eve when he declares “that woman you gave me…”
Eve of course is having on of that! She knows God told Adam to tend and keep the garden, so she doesn’t want to be responsible. She in turn points to the serpent. As the old saying goes, he doesn’t have a leg to stand on.
the point here is that no one wanted to take responsibility. We feel much better about our failures and mistakes if they are the fault of someone else. I may have eaten the cookie, but my sister told me to, therefore its HER fault, not mine. And there is also another issue here, which often comes up in these situations…Adam and Eve were really trying to blame God.
He gave Adam the woman, which Adam points out.
H created the serpent, which Eve points out.
So basically, they were pointing their finger in God’s face and saying ‘You’re the Reason!’ People do that today too, when things seem out of control.
- When a newborn baby dies unexpectedly, we say God took them
- When a woman dies of breast cancer, we say it was God’s will
- When disaster strikes and a home is destroyed by a tornado, we call it an Act of God
The list could go on. It is really unfair, however, for us to point at God as the problem, when the cause of these things is a direct result of man’s disobedience. God didn’t put sickness in the world, it entered as a result of the fall. He didn’t take a baby to SIDS, death is a result of the fall. The Creation, man, tries to point at the Creator and tell Him that, in essence, He did a lousy job. But it doesn’t work that way. We face the consequences for things as a direct result of our sin and disobedience, whether we see that or not.
Consider this story:
A man is driving down the interstate when he gets a call from his wife. “HERB,” she screams, “Be careful out there on the road. The news just came on and said that some crazy person is driving the wrong way down the interstate, weaving in and out of traffic.”
Herb replies to his wife: “They got it wrong. There are a bunch of crazy people out here driving the wrong way! I keep trying to dodge them all!”
Obviously, Herb was the one in the wrong, but he couldn’t see that. So often, neither can we.
3) They tried to hide their sin.
Adam and Eve made themselves clothes, because they realized they were naked. Then they hid when they heard God coming. We may be able to hid our sins for a while, but eventually someone will find out and it will cost us. That may be in heaven, but it will happen one way or another if we don’t deal with it.
4) They point at others who have done worse.
This is kind of like deflecting blame, but its also separate. Again, we have this need to feel justified, so we look in our misery for someone who has done something worse. Think of the habitual liar who points at himself and says “I never killed anyone, so what I did wasn’t nearly as bad as what Charles Manson did!” or the wife abuser who says “i only hit her twice. I know a guy who went a lot further then that.
We try to point at others failures as a way to deflect attention off of our own. Yet, at the end of the day, it will just be you and God–me and God–as we review the events of our lives and give account. I would much rather plead the Blood, deal with my sin now, and move on, painful as it may be, then in my pride justify myself and stand before Him and have to explain why I did the things I did…
Now make it practical. Talk it over with your family.
Here are a few Talking points:
- Review Gen 3 with your family. See also the story of Cain and Able. Why did Adam, Eve, and Cain try to hide what they did? Why not own up to their mistakes? What makes it so hard to admit we are wrong or did wrong?
- In what ways do we justify things when we make mistakes? how should we respond, instead? (parents, be open with your kids. Give them an example of a time you’ve missed it and deflected the blame. Lead by example)
- How do you think God feels when we try to blame others, or even blame Him for the mistakes we make or the bad things that happen in our lives?
- How can we adjust our attitudes to be in line with what God wants, so that when we fail we respond the right way?
- Pray together and ask God to forgive you for the places you’ve failed. Pray for your kids that God will help them to admit when they’ve made a mistake and correct it. Then let them pray for you as well!