Our 7-month-old Labrador loves to cruise the countertops of our home. She is looking for anything interesting to chew on, methodically sniffing the edge of the counters. When something catches her interest, the dog heaves her upper body onto the counter, flapping her mouth like an alligator in an attempt to grasp anything she can with her mouth. Victorious, she trots away with her prize and destroys it. Who is at fault? The dog, the person who left an item within reach, or the person who should be training her? When facing chewed up Legos, groceries or outgoing mail, it might feel good to place blame on someone, but it never helps.
Blame is a fruitless response to life, it does not fix anything and cripples your relationship with others and God. It is a simplified solution aimed at getting ourselves off the hook. It says someone else is at fault. Since others are the problem, we cannot be held responsible. Blame is not a tool for dealing with problems. Naming the source of a problem is often the first step to healing, but staying there and pointing fingers invokes blame.
A classic story involving blame is found at the beginning of the Bible. After God made Adam and Eve, he placed them in the garden of Eden. They were to tend the garden and enjoy it. God had one rule, “Don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Along came the crafty serpent who deceived Adam and Eve. They ate and sin was introduced to the human race, and the blame game began.
God asked Adam, “Did you eat from the tree I commanded you not to?” Genesis 3.12 shares Adam’s response, “The woman you put here with me — she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
Adam answered with finger pointing instead of responsibility. He blamed both Eve and God. He admitted to eating from the tree only because God and Eve put him into circumstances that forced him to eat. In the heat of the moment, Adam turned on his wife. She was supposed to be his perfect match. By choosing blame, Adam jeopardized his relationship with Eve. Blame makes people feel unsafe.
What would have happened if Adam took responsibility instead of blaming? Would things have ended differently? Would God’s judgment and the consequences given have changed? One thing is certain, a pattern of blame was established. Eve blamed the serpent, and the pattern carried on into their children. Their son, Cain, refused to take responsibility for his heart and actions and decided that his brother, Able, was the problem. He assigned the fault to Able, and took Able’s life. Blame can destroy a family.
Blame may start as a quick compulsion to get out out trouble, but soon it becomes a habit. Then before you know it, your life is built on blame; a sort of prison in which you become powerless and everything that has gone wrong is someone else’s fault.
It’s time to break the pattern of blame. Take responsibility for what you can. Much in life is beyond our control, but we can always make changes in ourselves. Decide to be a part of the solution. Ask yourself, “How can I help fix this?” We have a limited amount of resources to use in life. Put energy into solutions, restoration and healing, instead of assigning blame. Finally, be a cheerleader for success. We often use blame to destroy, when instead we should seek to help others become the best possible version of themselves.
Stand strong and say, “Blame stops here!” Resolve this day to be a part of the solution, instead of the source of blame.
Rev. Josh Walker is the pastor of Valleyview Evangelical Friends Church located at 868 W. William St. in Delaware.