Blame-shifting is a common occurrence. When problems occur in a company or corporation, it is not uncommon to see people shirking responsibility and making excuses for non-performance. Some may even proceed to sue others in order to distract others from their failings. Others find excuses or blame their colleagues when things go wrong. There is also a joke of how “the dog ate the homework” when students do not hand in their assignments on time. Excuses, excuses, excuses . . .

This trait of shirking personal responsibility can be traced back to our first parents—Adam and Eve. When the LORD questioned Adam whether he had eaten of the forbidden fruit, he blamed Eve for giving him the fruit. However, Adam could have rejected the fruit even if his wife had presented it to him. As for Eve, she too blamed the serpent for beguiling her, even though God’s command to not eat of the fruit was explicit in Genesis 2:15-17. Adam and Eve had no excuses, but still chose to shift the blame to others.

This act of blame-shifting soon continued after the fall of man. When Cain’s sacrifice was rejected, he retorted, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9). Cain was shirking his personal responsibility for looking out for his younger brother. He was also declaring that Abel was responsible for his own safety. If Abel died, it was Abel’s fault.

Aaron was another who was guilty of blame-shifting. When the people pleaded Aaron to make the golden calf as a representation of “Elohim” (God), Aaron personally commanded the people to break off their golden earrings and bring them to him. He then personally fashioned the golden calf with a graving tool and presented it before the people. Yet when he was confronted by Moses for his sin, Aaron blamed the people: “And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief. 23 For they said unto me, 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 what is become of him. 24 And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.” (Exodus 32:22-24)

The ultimate blame-master, however, would have to be king Saul, the man after his own heart. The first incident of finger-pointing can be seen in 1 Samuel 13. Samuel had ordered Saul to wait for him to arrive so that Samuel may offer sacrifices unto God. However, when Samuel was late, Saul took it upon himself to offer the sacrifices. This was the duty of the priest and not of the king. By offering the sacrifices, Saul had transgressed the law of God. However, when he was confronted, he blamed:

  • the people. “Because I saw the people were scattered from me.” (1 Samuel 13:11)
  • Samuel. “. . . thou camest not within the time appointed.” (1 Samuel 13:11)
  • the Philistines. “. . . The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal.” (1 Samuel 13:12)

He then portrayed himself as a victim of the circumstances – “. . . I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.”

The second incident of blame-shifting is found in 1 Samuel 15. Here, God commanded Saul to “utterly destroy” all the Amalekites and their possessions (1 Samuel 15:2-3), but Saul spared Agag the king and the best of the sheep and the oxen. This time, he blamed the people twice for sparing the sheep (1 Samuel 15:15, 21) and shirking personal responsibility. He even tried to portray himself as a man of good and noble intentions, proclaiming his desire to sacrifice the oxen and sheep to the Lord (1 Samuel 15:15). It was everybody’s fault but his!

On the other hand, we have the counter-example of king David, the man after God’s own heart. When Nathan confronted David with his sin of murdering Uriah and committing adultery with Bathsheba, David readily confessed, “I have sinned against the LORD.” His expression of true repentance can be seen in Psalm 51. “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.” (Psalm 51:1-4) Unlike Saul, there was no blame-shifting.

Dear reader, as Christians, we are to be men after God’s own heart. We must follow the example of king David and not king Saul. When we sin against the LORD, we must quickly repent and not find excuses for our sin. We must not blame others for our wrong-doing. We must also be ready to accept the consequences of our sin. It is only when we do so that our fellowship with God can be restored.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
1 John 1:9

No finger-pointing. No blame-shifting. No excuses. Amen.

Lovingly in Christ,
Preacher Clement Chew