ROSS HELGETON – Faith & Reflection
I had the honour of conducting my cousin’s funeral last fall. We were the same age and close friends. One of his lifelong and notable characteristics was his kind and generous spirit.
When we were five years old, we decided (without notifying anyone) to walk to a particular farm. We discovered that it was much further away than we had ascertained.
Nevertheless, it was a fantastic journey and we made a number of discoveries en route. The fact that we never reached our destination didn’t matter … until three hours later and two miles out of town, my father’s car appeared.
Dad’s icy blue eyes looked deep into my soul as he said, “Both of you … get into the back seat.”
We readily complied. He said some things in Norwegian and then lapsed into silence; neither of those were good signs.
On the way back into town, my cousin, exhibiting his generous nature, leaned over and whispered that since my parents were stricter than his, I should say that our foray into the country was all his fault.
To my shame, I admit that I tried to employ this plan, but it didn’t work.
My parents said, “You can’t blame your cousin. God gave you a brain and you are responsible for your own decisions and the results.”
Moderate physical exercises guaranteed to make the lesson more memorable and meaningful ensued.
Blame-shifting, denial and failure to take responsibility is as old as the human race.
The first record of it is found in Genesis 3:1-23. The forbidden fruit was consumed, and short verses later, we see God’s inquiry into what had gone wrong and the very first application of the blame game.
Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent and the serpent, not having a leg to stand on, said nothing.
Their blame-shifting was no more successful than mine. God found them all culpable, and ever since, men need to sweat to earn a living, women cry out in childbirth and snakes continue to slither on the ground.
The tendency to blame others and to avoid responsibility for personal sins, crimes and failures is alive and well to this day.
Just two weeks ago, Deborah Murphy claimed her son, Michael Rafferty, was innocent of the horrific abuse and murder of Tori Stafford. She placed the blame wholly upon Terri-Lynne McClintic, suggesting that Michael’s crime was keeping company with a person of such bad influence. Absurd!
For all of us, a day is coming when there will be no opportunity for blame-shifting. It’s good to be reminded that, “… each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore, let us stop passing judgment on one another …” (Romans 14:12,13)
Pastor Ross Helgeton is senior pastor at Erskine Evangelical Free Church.