When the result does not turn out the way we want, we often blame someone or something else for the breakdown. I failed the test because my parents did not make me study. It is not my fault I became lost; I followed the map. Do not blame me for dropping the dishes because you came in and scared me. Some think this way because they believe it excuses their actions by laying guilt elsewhere.
Adam and Eve are the classic example of trying to excuse what they did by blaming others. Adam deflected his guilt by accusing Eve and brought God into the picture. Eve redirected their focus to the serpent because he had deceived her. In the end, they each had to bear the guilt of their own actions and sins. (Gen. 3:11-24)
Instead of blaming someone else for my failings and offenses, I must accept the problem belongs to me. (1 Tim. 1:15) I must first believe God alone sets the standard of right and wrong. (John 12:48-50) I need to honestly compare my life against the pattern of His Word. (2 Cor. 13:5) The issue Adam and Eve had is the same we face in life. We must choose to obey or disobey God and accept the blame if we sin.
There are also times we blame ourselves for events and failures over which we had no real control. I am not talking about matters of sin for which one is liable. Breakdowns and unexpected troubles can happen anytime. It is like a driver blaming himself for an accident he did not cause. “What if I had looked three times instead of just two?” “Perhaps I should have been driving twenty-five miles an hour instead of thirty.” “I should have reacted quicker when I saw the danger.” This groundless blaming of self makes no sense. Some may even come to question their own driving skills or get so scared they refuse to drive. Baseless feelings of guilt can weigh us down to a point where we do not do much of anything.
Christians are workers for Christ and we have much to achieve. This means we do the jobs, and only the jobs, God wants. (2 John 9) We also love Him enough to do the work His way. (Rev. 22:18-19) I am not saying it will always go the way we want or expect, because it won’t. Satan, the evil one, is fighting against us. His whole purpose is to spoil our effort to serve the Lord faithfully. (1 Peter 5:8)
While the Devil can entice and tempt us in many ways, creating despair has to be near the top. (Eph. 3:13) If he can dishearten us by our failures or if he can make us question our worth, then he wins. We must not let him prevail by us becoming discouraged over events beyond our control. (2 Tim. 4:10)
I know people who are passionate about their faith and ready to do the Lord’s Work. You can see their zeal by what they do and how they live. They never miss a service unless they are sick or out of town. (Heb. 10:25) Bible studies and worship services give them a chance to learn about God, and so they do not want to miss. Just as someone taught them the truth, they want to grow to a point where they can teach others. (Heb. 5:12-14)
BEWARE! Satan will do everything he can to discourage you, to chip away at your faith. (1 Peter 5:8) You want to teach someone the truth? Do not get down when they mock and make fun of the message. Evil people did the same to the Lord and the apostles. (Acts 17:32) If you lovingly teach the truth, that is all God expects and wants from you. (2 Tim. 4:1-2)
When people reject the gospel they snub God, not me. The power to reach people does not come from me or my wisdom. It is as Paul said, he did not use “lofty words or wisdom” to teach people. (1 Cor. 2:1) Instead, the Holy Spirit guided him almost two thousand years ago to reveal truth. (Gal. 1:11-12) When we use the same words to teach the same message, the power to save still belongs to God.
When I make rejecting God’s Word personal and about me, then I have lost sight of the One who should take offense. Without God, we can do nothing to save ourselves. He is the One who planned, carried out, and revealed every part of His saving grace and what He wants from us. (1 Cor. 2:9-13) We must also remember, the gospel does exactly what God intends. As Isaiah said about His Word, “it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)
Do not let what we cannot control derail our faith. Some give up teaching because they become discouraged. Others may blame themselves when sinners do not respond they way they should to God’s Word. What about the person who loses faith because some mistreat them? Instead of giving up, perhaps it is better to increase one’s kindness and compassion to others. I know we can all grow and do better. We should continue to examine ourselves and try to improve.