Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 21, 1961
NUMBER 20, PAGE 2,11

Blame Yourself

Bill Cavender, Longview, Texas

"And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat." (Gen. 3:11-13)

Adam had sinned and he immediately refused to accept responsibility for it. He sought to blame his wife, and indirectly he sought to blame God for all of it because he reminded God that "the woman whom thou gavest to be with me," was the cause of his downfall. When Eve was questioned, she sought to blame the serpent. Thus began a sin and a practice that is universal in scope, even until this day. Even in the church of the Lord there are few who are willing to admit their own shortcomings and sins, and accept the blame and responsibility for their failures and misdeeds.

In refusing to blame ourselves, we sometimes blame others. Our original parents did this as stated above. In Exodus 32 it is recorded that Moses was upon Mt. Sinai and the Israelites grew restless below. The people came to Aaron, who had been left in charge, and asked him to "make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not is become of him." Aaron had the people bring all their gold, he smelted the gold into a molten mass, then took a graving tool and made an image of a calf. He then made an altar before the calf, and proclaimed a feast for the next day. "And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play." (Ex. 32:6; 1 Con 10:7) Upon the mount God told Moses that the people had corrupted themselves, and his anger, was so hot against them that he threatened to consume them and establish a great nation of the family of Moses. Moses interceded to God for the people, not realizing the extent of their sin and idolatry. As Moses came down from the mount with the tables of testimony, he heard the noise of singing and merriment. When he came near the camp and saw the calf and dancing, his "anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount." Moses burned the calf, ground it to powder, strewed it upon the water, and made them drink of it. Then he called Aaron to account for his sin in allowing the people to do this. Aaron replied, "Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief...." "And I said unto them...." "So they gave it me ...." (32:21-24) Aaron sinned and tried to blame the people entirely for his wrong in following them in their evil. But God and Moses held him responsible. (32:35)

In First Samuel 15:1-35, King Saul was commanded by God through Samuel to "go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass." Saul and the people went on this mission "but Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but everything that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly." God told Samuel of Saul's disobedience and Samuel came to meet Saul. Saul told Samuel he had performed the commandment of the Lord. When Samuel then asked about the bleating of the sheep and the lowing of the oxen, Saul said, "They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God...." "But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen...." Saul blamed the people for this sin and for this sin he was deposed as king of Israel and God determined that a better man than Saul should rule.

Thus it is with many of us. Aaron and Saul but show us to ourselves. What they did we often do. Most of our mistakes are blamed on others. Husbands blame wives and wives blame husbands. Parents blame children and children blame parents. Brethren blame elders and preachers, and preachers and elders blame the brethren. Nations blame nations and neighbors blame neighbors. The result always is evil and much more harm always results from blaming others than would result if we could only blame ourselves.

In refusing to blame ourselves, we sometimes blame a busy life. In the parable of the escaped prisoner, given by a prophet to rebuke King Ahab for allowing Benhadad to escape, the reason given for the escape of the prisoner was that "as thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone." (1 Kings 20:39-40) So it is with most of us. We are too busy. I once heard of the man who was so busy that he missed one section of a revolving door and it threw him off schedule for thirty days. He was too busy. People come to worship tired and worn out from being too busy and fall asleep at the service. The Bible teaches us to be busy people, to work, to provide for our failures, and to help the needy. (Eph. 4:28; 1 Tim. 5:8; 2 Thess. 3:8-11) But we will be condemned if we are too busy (even busy at something that is otherwise all right) to render an acceptable service to God. We rush through life, spending most of our time on frivolous things, and have little time for good. We come to the end of life and have nothing worthwhile to show for our sojourn here. The precious moments of our life are wasted. We use our time much like the man who, discovering his house was on fire, rushed in and threw out some old chairs but left his wife and children to perish in the flames. We need to check up on our time and energy and how we are using them. We can meet life's various obligations and still have time for the Lord and in making our preparation to meet him. Many do this, and we must if we want to go to heaven. Let us find time for the needful and important things of life and quit blaming a busy life for our failures.

We pay a big price for being too busy. Our children are lost because we are too busy to sing and pray with them, and to teach them the word of God. The church doesn't grow strong in faith and people are not obeying the gospel because we are too busy. Elders are too busy with financial matters and gigantic programs to oversee the flock and help people go to heaven. Deacons are too busy with keeping the "fellowship" halls and kitchens in good shape to visit the sick, aged, infirm, and needy. Preachers are too busy pastoring churches, gadding about, dabbing in civic clubs, and a hundred other things to be studying their Bibles, preaching from house to house, visiting the weak, etc. Yes, we pay a mighty big price for being too busy to properly serve the Lord and the result will be that many will be lost at the Day of Judgment.


In refusing to blame ourselves, we sometimes blame the circumstances of life. The invited guests who failed to come to the supper when it was prepared all blamed circumstances of life. One refused to come because he had bought some land; another would not come because he had bought five yoke of oxen; another couldn't come for he had married a wife. (Luke 14:15-24) Jesus said that all these made excuses but in spite of the fact that excuses are here condemned, we still flood the market with them. We all do it and our children take it up at an early age. Some blame their lack of education for their failure to study God's word or to teach and take part in a public way in the services of the church. Some blame their lack of proper clothing for their failure to attend the services. Some blame their imagined infirmities as their excuse for neglecting the assembly. On and on we could go. When we refuse to do our duty and develop ourselves as God's children as we should and as we are able to do, by blaming the circumstances of life, then we are guilty as was the one talent man and we are lacking as were the foolish virgins, and the same fate shall befall us as came upon them. (Matt. 26:1-46)


1. Failing to accept the blame for our own failures is a bad practice because it causes us to die. Aaron lied about how the calf came into existence. (Ex. 32:24) Saul lied in trying to absolve himself of guilt in the warfare against the Amalekites. (1 Sam. 15:20) Lying is condemned in the New Testament. (Col. 3:9; Eph. 4:25; Rev. 21:8) People who will not blame themselves always wind up being liars. (1 John 1:8-10)

2. Failing to accept the blame for our own failures is a cowardly practice. Sometimes men are imprisoned because a coward who actually committed the crime will not come forth and admit his guilt. Homes are broken because people are too cowardly to accept responsibility for errors. Churches are divided because both sides blame the other. Nations divide and then fight wars because they refuse to admit mistakes. All are guilty and to the extent of our guilt, all are cowards.

3. Failing to accept blame for our own mistakes is a practice that will put our eyes out. We get so, if we habitually practice this sin, that we can't see ourselves as we really are at all. Solomon said that the "way of a fool is right in his own eyes." (Prov. 12:15) When we refuse to accept blame, we soon get like Johnny's mother who, visiting her son in the army camp and watching the soldiers parade by, exclaimed, "There's my Johnny and everybody's out of step but him." I have observed that it is often this way in church troubles. Parties arise, far too much is said, bitterness and hatred result, the church divides, and all the trouble was with the other side. Rarely is this true. In such matters we generally cannot see any mistake at all on our part and we are blinded to our own shortcomings.


How shall we overcome this sin and this universal weakness? By learning to say "I have sinned," and "I am wrong." David said, "Lord, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee." (Psa. 41:4) Nehemiah said, "Let thine ear now be attentive, and, thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father's house have sinned." (Neh. 1:6) Ezra said, "And at the evening oblation I arose up from my humiliation, even with my garment and my robe rent; and I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto Jehovah my God; and I said, 0 my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God; for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our guiltiness is grown up unto the heavens." (Ezra 9:5-6) The prodigal son is to be admired and respected, not because of his grievous sins, but because when he realized them, he admitted his guilt by saying, "Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son" (Luke 15:21)

If men like David, Nehemiah, Ezra, the prodigal son, and the apostles of Christ had to admit their failures to he pleasing to God, I know that you and I will also have to do so. Such will have to be done many, many times as we press on to completion in Christ. (Phil. 3:13-15) Let us learn to admit our mistakes and failures when we make them. Such is a mark of courage and spiritual strength, not of cowardice and weakness. Let us learn to "confess our sins." (James 5:16; 1 John 1:9) Then God can forgive us, we can forgive each other, and all be prepared to live eternally with our God. Truly we should learn to blame ourselves.