Bible Study Tools / Human Nature

Who, Me? It's Not My Fault

by Joseph Sheperd

The very first experience of human misconduct, when held to account, resulted in denial of truth and reality. When God said to Adam, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” God knew Adam had eaten. How did Adam handle this?

He shifted the blame – it wasn’t his fault, it was the woman’s. What’s more, it was the woman that God had given him; she gave him the fruit! Adam was inferring that both the woman and God were responsible for what happened.

To us in God’s Church, we find Adam’s attempt to shift the blame both obvious and shallow. Yet, a heartfelt acceptance of being wrong, or being at fault, is one of the most difficult admissions we humans are called upon to make. We wrestle with this all of our lives.

For a child of God, our response to instruction or correction is a life and death issue! God’s word is replete with powerful reminders of this principle. We see two ways people respond to instruction and correction: acceptance with conviction of guilt; or downplaying and ignoring as “not applicable to me” and, even worse, sometimes resenting it.

The question we all need to ask is: “Is the reaction that Adam had, my reaction, at least some of the time?” Let’s consider these powerful admonitions and honestly evaluate ourselves: Proverbs 15:12 says. “A scorner loves not one that reproves him; neither will he go to the wise.” These people love “smooth and soft” words that leave them feeling good about themselves. They will “edit out” the parts they need most, and may even resent the one giving the reproof.

Notice the contrast in these two reactions to correction: Proverbs 12:1 says, “He that loves instruction loves knowledge, but he that hates reproof is brutish.” It is either genuine acceptance of correction with motivation to change, or resenting and rejecting the reproof, which God says is “brutish” (In the KJV, the word actually means “stupid.”)

The reaction to instruction, which may also contain correction, shows either our foolishness – a spiritual immaturity, or it shows godly wisdom. With godly wisdom, we not only accept the instruction, we truly appreciate and love what God is giving us via a human instrument. This powerful play within us is so important in our Christian walk, that it truly is a life and death issue. Let’s notice Proverbs 15:10, “Correction is grievous to him that forsakes the way; and he that hates reproof shall die.” One who does not overcome the powerful forces of selfdefense and self-justification is forsaking “the way,” the only way that repentance, spiritual growth and overcoming are possible. The end of that road is to fail in the greatest calling, goal and quest that life can offer any human being.

A wonderful contrast to resistance to instruction or correction is found in Proverbs 25:12: “As an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.” An obedient ear differs totally from Adam’s (and mankind’s) reaction. Here is wise reproof, or instruction, being given and falling upon willing, teachable and obedient ears. The results are likened to a person adorned with golden jewellery and clothing. Why? These hearers listen, judge themselves honestly and are moved from the heart to make changes. Godly wisdom, character and spiritual growth will be gained. This is worth far, far more than anything that the world’s treasures can buy.

How much of Adam’s reaction to God is yet in us? How much of a role does it still play in our lives? Our loving Father has this ongoing, loving instruction to all of us. Notice Hebrews 12:10-11 (NIV), “Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best, but God disciplines us for our good; that we may share in His Holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

The truly big question for each of us is, “Am I in God’s training program, or have I customized the program to terms which are more acceptable to me?”

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