Do you blame others? Try to dodge responsibility for your actions by blaming others? Are you full of excuses? I spent four decades on the planet as an unsaved person, I had honed blame-shifting to near perfection. I could rationalize away the worst sins. “What you did caused me to…” or “Despite what YOU did, I rose above…”
The mark of a spiritually mature person is one who not only accepts responsibility without excuses but seeks to give God glory and thinks of the other person first. Let’s look at three examples from the Bible.
The immediate blame-game that comes to mind are Adam and Eve. It’s disappointing that their first response was one of blaming each other. So much for Adam being a leader, he threw Eve under the bus at the first obstacle. God is asking Adam and Eve what they have done, since they knew they were naked and were hiding from God.
He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:11-13)
Neither of them were spiritually mature. But perhaps we can give them a slight break, neither of them had encountered sin before.
Let’s look at Cain and Abel. Cain worked the ground, and Abel was a shepherd (the first one in the Bible?). We know that God accepted Abel’s sacrifice over Cain’s.
In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. (Genesis 4:4-5)
Cain killed his brother Abel. When God asked Cain about it, Cain deflected his responsibility and denied knowing anything of Abel’s whereabouts. Eve had to be talking into her sin, but Cain couldn’t be talked out of it. Not even by God. Cain remained angry and surly towards God. (Genesis 4:9).
Joseph is the third example. You remember, he was the youngest at the time of Jacob’s sons, and the firstborn of Jacob’s favorite wife, Rachel. Joseph’s older brothers were jealous of Joseph, and conspired to kill Joseph, but then at the last minute decided to profit from their scheme and sold Joseph into slavery in Egypt. That was the last the brothers saw of Joseph until they were facing death in a very severe famine, and traveled to Egypt to buy grain. After a period of time and testing, Joseph revealed who he was to his brothers.
So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. (Genesis 45:4-5).
Of anyone who had reason to blame, it was Joseph. He had been an innocent party of his brother’s sins, and Joseph had suffered terribly for it. Adam, Eve, and Cain were overtly choosing wrong, and blamed others for their acts. Joseph chose right, and ever blamed anyone. Abandoned by his brothers, betrayed by them at a horrific level, (conspiracy of fratricide), falsely accused, being put in jail, attempted rape by Potiphar’s wife, Joseph had reason more than practically anyone in the Bible to blame his brothers.
He could have said,
“Look what you did, and God is repaying you, but I will forgive you!”
“You mocked me when I dreamed of you bowing down to me, and yet here you are, bowing down to me!”
“Don’t you know I hold your life in my hands?”
But Joseph didn’t. First of all Joseph praised God for His providential hand. Recognizing God’s sovereignty is always the best place to start. Then Joseph reassured the brothers, saying they should not be distressed by their act. Joseph sought their good, and removed opportunity for self-blame by emphatically showing he did not blame them. He was seeking the brothers’ good.
That’s what spiritually mature people do. They seek the good of the other person and ignore opportunities to lord it over them.
But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. 26″It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, (Matthew 20:25)
In this great text, Jesus was teaching the disciples that the style of greatness and leadership for believers is different. Gentile leaders dominate in dictatorial fashion, using carnal power and authority, Believers are to do the opposite, they lead by being servants and giving themselves away for others, as Jesus did.
A mark of spiritual authority is to accept responsibility for our sins, and if we are the innocent party, to love the sinner and seek their good without lording it over.
I pray the Lord continues His work of reforming me from the inside out, growing me in maturity and to have the strength to humbly repent when I’m wrong; and to love others with a servant attitude who may have harmed me, always pointing to Christ as the one who is sovereign over all.