One of the earliest instincts revealed in mankind is to blame others and avoid taking responsibility. We call passing on the blame ‘Passing the Buck’, and it’s something most of us do at some time or other. However, it has a very negative effect if we use that process to avoid facing our responsibility.
We are commanded to ‘repent’, to turn away from what we are doing wrong. But if we blame others, we have likely let ourselves off the hook and not changed our heart. Let me dig into this thought with you.
In the Garden of Eden Eve ate forbidden fruit and gave it to her husband, Adam, to eat as well. They immediately knew they were guilty and they hid from God. God called them to account. When challenged about eating fruit from the forbidden tree Adam blamed Eve and he blamed God and Eve blamed the serpent. The joke goes that the serpent “didn’t have a leg to stand on”.
“Adam answered, The woman whom You gave me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Genesis 3:12
Adam blamed Eve, but he also had a dig at God at the same time. Eve was the woman God had given to Adam. So maybe even God was to blame for what happened. However, Adam also admitted “I ate it”.
Why did Adam point the finger at Eve and at God? Human instinct is to avoid facing our guilt.
We hear children do that all the time, with excuses such as, “He hit me first”. Somehow we think that if we can blame others, or share the blame with them, then we have let ourselves off to some degree.
Let me focus here on how blaming others can hide our own responsibility. In a car accident situation I have heard the expression, “that car came out of nowhere”. The car was not transported in from another dimension. It could only have come from a few directions on any given road. The true statement might be, “I wasn’t paying attention”. Or maybe, “I wasn’t prepared for a surprise like that.” But we are more likely to blame the car and its driver, than admit we were caught off-guard.
It gets worse. In many relationships bad will is created and people become intolerant of each other. People can be so annoyed, or touchy, or ready to react to someone they are already offended at, that they jump at the other person, unfairly. Rather than admit, “I have ill-will toward that other person”, we are likely to say, “They are just SO annoying!”
We blame the other, when the true problem might be in our heart.
When you resent someone else, you will focus on what they did to earn your contempt. You will not likely focus on the evil of ill-will in your heart.
When you feel like you can’t forgive someone for what they did, your focus is on what they did, not on your problem of un-forgiveness.
When you despise someone, you will focus on what you don’t like in them, not on the toxic attitude in your heart.
When you keep feeling offended by someone, you will focus on what is offensive about them, not the evil in your own heart and mind.
Most people who struggle with un-forgiveness, resentment, contempt and offence feel confident the problem is with the other person. But this is most likely Passing the Buck.
Consider this example. You meet someone who has an uncanny likeness to someone you were deeply offended by in the past. Every time you meet this person you react to them and struggle to look at them or talk with them.
Who has the problem? Should you be angry and resentful to this new person because of how you react to them? Are they to blame for anything? I say, “No”.
Yet you feel offended by them. You resent the way they look. You avoid them. You are quick to react negatively toward them.
All of those reactions show that YOU have a problem. They reveal that you are out of order and need to deal with something.
If it can be true when the person is innocent and unaware of why you react, can’t it also be true when you have built up a pattern of un-forgiveness, offence, resentment, spite, bitterness, reaction and accusation toward someone you know?
We tend to go easy on ourselves and give ourselves credit that we don’t deserve. It is noted that many criminals in prison do not see themselves as bad people, despite being convicted of crime. You likely think of yourself as a person of ‘good will’. So if you get offended, and you are a person of good will, then the other person must be at fault, not you.
I challenge that as Passing the Buck.
I challenge you to stop responding to others with pride in your heart. Pride tells you the other people are out of order, but not you. Humble yourself before God and ask Him to search your heart. Consider that you may be un-forgiving. You may be resentful and spiteful. You may be taking vengeance into your own hands. You may be bound in bitterness. You may have a toxic, evil heart toward someone. If so, you will be damaged by that, and others around you will be damaged too.
Friends, the most powerful thing you can do in such situations is to admit your fault, confess your sin, and be forgiven and set free.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1John 1:9
When you confess, you are forgiven and you are also cleansed from the toxic things inside you.
I urge you to see the truth about yourself and to accept responsibility. Then confess your sin and be cleansed, so you will never again need to be Passing the Buck.