21st January 2022

The Blame-shifting Game!

Most of us are natural blame-shifters. The kids made me late, the dog ate my homework, the flat-pack chest of drawers collapsed because the instructions were useless etc. It is almost effortless. We see something go wrong and the last thing we want is to feel the weight of failure on ourselves, so we find a way out. We can blame other people, circumstances or even God but blame causes us to miss a profound opportunity for growth and maturity with the Lord.

blame causes us to miss a profound opportunity for growth

There is an almost unbelievable story in 1 Samuel 4:1-11 where the people of Israel head out into battle against the Philistines but are properly defeated and 4,000 men lose their lives. Now, a quick look at the history of battles with God’s people would clearly show that victory was absolutely guaranteed when they were in a good place with God and that defeat was always the result of their rebellion. So, you would expect a time of contemplation following this calamitous battle. Prayers would be raised heavenward asking the Lord to show them what was wrong so that they could put it right. But no. This was not at all how the people responded. They effectively shook their fists at God and said, ‘Why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines?’. They weren’t remotely upset with the Philistines for beating them but they were upset with God.

It gets worse… rather than taking stock and looking at their own hearts so they could be restored to the Lord, they decided to trust in religion! They used the ark of the covenant as a trophy to lead them back out into battle. It became their lucky charm – their superstitious ritual that in their own mind would guarantee victory. They all shouted as loud as they could and got ready to fight but it is interesting how this very human plan had a very human impact – it stirred the Philistines to fight harder! This time, as the people went into battle with the ark of the covenant as their hope they suffered an even greater defeat with 30,000 men slaughtered.

Proverbs 19:3 explains the situation in an amazing way, ‘When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the LORD.’. Wow! Can that be true? When our own foolishness leads to disaster, can it really be that our response is a heart raging against the Lord? Could we really start shaking our fists at God for situations that exist because of our own stupidity? It seems we could but clearly this is not the right response!

It seems to me that human nature – that carnal, embedded, self-preserving, self-serving and self-gratifying part of us can be very quick to deflect blame. That might be onto others or it might be on to God. But perhaps we need to pause, look at our own life and ask God to shine His light into our hearts so that we can return to Him and find His help.

Of course, not every tough situation is because of rebellion or foolishness on our part. There were plenty of times in the Bible when God’s people experienced difficulties when they were right in the middle of His purposes. But these tough times are opportunities for us to pause and invite the Lord to speak to us.

Step one would be to acknowledge where we are blame-shifting and to ask for the Lord’s forgiveness. We do this knowing He is utterly faithful and does forgive us when we confess our sin to Him. This restores relationship with Him.

Why am I blame-shifting?

Next we can ask the simple question, ‘Why I am blame-shifting?’. This is such a powerful question because it opens us up to hearing truth from the Lord. It might be fear of criticism, our own pride or just wanting to avoid that horrible feeling of embarrassment or failure. These feelings we are trying to avoid may well come from quite a deep place of hurt from the past, and ultimately our blame-shifting is acting as a shield around our already wounded heart. But self-made shields do not work and the only way to move on is to bring the truth of what is going on to the Lord and ask for Him to heal our hearts.

blame-shifting is acting as a shield around our already wounded heart

Maybe we will realise that it is our own ‘folly’ that has caused the mess in our lives but we have ‘raged’ against the Lord or others. If so, we can also ask God’s forgiveness for this. We can ask Him to help us to put things right with others and that He would help us grow in our daily walk with Him so that we can make wiser decisions.

Blame-shifting might come naturally to us but let’s commit to owning our own mistakes and rebellious ways, come to the Lord in honesty and truth in the midst of them, and ask for His help, guidance and restoration.

Andy Taylor By Andy Taylor

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