August 27, 2023

Sins of the Spirit #9: Blame-Shifting

Passage: 1 Samuel 15:1-23

Someone Else’s Fault

I went to my psychiatrist to be psychoanalyzed

To find out why I killed my cat and blackened my wife’s eyes

He put me on a downy couch to see what he could find

And this is what he dredged up from my unconscious mind.

When I was one, my mommy hid my dolly in the trunk

And so it follows naturally that I am always drunk.

When I was two, I saw my father kiss the maid one day

And that is why I suffer now from kleptomania.

When I was three, I suffered hatred from my brothers

And so it follows naturally I poisoned all my lovers.

I’m so glad that I have learned the lesson this has taught

That everything I do that’s wrong is someone else’s fault.[1]


Wouldn’t it be great if you never had to admit that you were wrong, never take responsibility for your actions, never have to say that you are sorry? Many people would have us believe that we are not responsible for our own actions. We are victims, not sinners. We are not the problem; the problem is lack of education, lack of money, or lack of parenting—everything I do that’s wrong is someone else’s fault. We have reasons for our bad behavior -- bullying, neglect, abuse. We were mistreated when they were little, so we are not responsible for their behavior as adults. Whatever the reason, people think of themselves as victims instead of as sinners. They seek to avoid personal responsibility.

Blame shifting and refusing to take personal responsibility are very common problems, both in the world and in the church.

Today we are finishing up our Summer Sermon Series on sins of the spirit by looking at the sin of blame-shifting, or we could describe this as avoiding personal responsibility. This sin is both an attitude and an action. In an effort to avoid responsibility, we try to blame someone else. Or perhaps what is more common is that we make exceptions and excuses for ourselves; we blame our failures on other people or on special circumstances.

The Bible clearly teaches personal responsibility. We are answerable to God for our actions and attitudes, and we should not try to shift the blame for our own failures. We should not try to excuse our sinful behavior by appealing to difficult circumstances.

What does the Bible teach about blame-shifting and personal responsibility?

[1] Anna Russell, edited slightly.

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