It Is Your Fault
I liked the movie Good Will Hunting. At least, I liked it up to a point. In the climatic scene of the movie the psychologist grabs Will in a hug and declares, "It's not your fault!" Pfffftttt. That just about ruined the whole movie for me. It is so typical of the attitudes of people today. Here's a news flash "Will": It is your fault.
There is some truth in the idea that it's not my fault. I am not at fault for what others have done and will do. However, any situation I find myself in is a combination of the choices that others and I have made and are making. Whatever choice someone else makes, I always have freedom in my response to what they do. I don't have to be manipulated. I don't have to respond with fear, anger or hate. I do have a choice and so do you. Someone may say or do something that is intended to make me envious. Although I can not, and should not try to control what someone else does, my emotional response to what they do is entirely under my control. I can defeat their attempt to make me envious by simply refusing to be envious. If I become envious, spiteful or filled with anger and hate, then it is my fault.
Obviously, I'm not talking about physical control. Certainly someone stronger than me can control my physical body or they can alter the physical surroundings in a way that is inconvenient for me. They can even deceive me with false information. What they can never do is control my emotional and spiritual response. I suppose that someone could inject me with mind-altering drugs, but short of that, my response is always entirely under my control. And that is why I say, when I fall into anger and frustration, it is my fault. As Jesus taught, we don't have to respond to evil with evil. We can do better than that and in so doing, change the conditions of the world we live in.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matt. 5:43-45)
This attitude of "it's not my fault" is nothing new. Consider the story of Adam and Eve:
And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? 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. (Genesis 3:11-13)
Caught in their downfall, they immediately start blaming someone else. Adam blames not only Eve, but by implication, blames God, too. It was, after all, "the woman whom thou gavest to be with me" who gave Adam the fruit. The implication is that if God had not given the woman to Adam, then Adam would have been OK. Eve just says, the devil made her do it. This theme of blaming someone else runs throughout the Bible and throughout human history. It is always somebody else who is at fault. Children seem to have an instinct for this. It's always "she started it" or "he hit me first."
Once this attitude of blaming someone else gets started, it isn't too long before everyone is trying to fix everyone else. Since it is never "my fault" then we get the belief that if we fix what is wrong with someone else, all the problems will go away. This attitude is especially prevalent in the areas of politics and religion. In politics, it manifests itself as any of a number of forms of elitism. It may be aristocratic, socialist, conservative, or fascist. In all cases it is one group of people who think they know best what everyone else should do. Since many people are likely to disagree, the inevitable result is some form of coercion at the hand of government. Religion is not immune to this either. Religious elitism results in attempts to suppress heresies and unorthodox views. This is especially true if the views expose some fault in the religious leaders. But, these are not the only areas. You find the same thing in business, education, medicine, economics, and among friends and family as well.
Satan seems to like nothing more than to get each of us to blame someone else. That way we never get convicted of our own sins and never turn to God in repentance. After all, why should we repent if it is someone else's fault?
Now here is where things get a little difficult. I know I'm not here to fix someone else. I'm walking with Jesus so that I can get fixed! How then do we ever share the gospel? No one is ready to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ until they reach that point of realization that they themselves are broken and need fixing. Any attempt by me to point out the problem is likely to be considered condemnation. I have no desire to condemn another since it seems to me to be nothing but hypocrisy. Here is the only answer I know.
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13-14)
We have to learn what it means to love someone as Jesus loved us. It is a love that we cannot quite reach, but in reaching for it we not only improve ourselves, but also help others as well. For me it is best summed up in the word "compassion." True compassion is being aware of the other person's need. It isn't about what I want to do for them. I may want to tell them what I think of their condition and how they can be saved. I may want to tell them all about my problems and how I deal with them. I may want to use certain words and scriptures that I love the most. Certain questions of doctrine, interpretation of scripture or praise and worship may be an important issue to me, and the tendency is to want to convert everyone else to exactly the same view. But, I always have to ask, is this what they need?
Jesus recognized our need. We were headed for eternal death because of our separation from the Creator and we needed salvation. Only by His sacrifice could that salvation be achieved and thus our need became what he desired to do. This is the "greater love" that Jesus spoke about. He could have said to us, "It's not my fault you have such a problem." Jesus taught men the truth and showed them what they ought to become. He could have returned to heaven to His rightful place with the Father and left us to deal with our own problem. Instead, he said, "You have a need that only I can supply, and I out of my love for you will provide for your need." I say, that is what He wants us to do as well.
When we get past this idea that everything is always somebody else's fault, and realize we are in the same condition we see in others, then we can begin to reach towards the compassion we need. All we really need to say is, Jesus loves you, so do I, now how can I help?