On the way home from my daughter’s track meet, we got to see a town square pole get uprooted and smashed by a big freight truck. It was something I’ve never seen before, but it was also a teachable moment that I took advantage of when it was available. The reason the truck driver could not navigate the turn is because someone else disobeyed the traffic signs and pulled over a car length ahead of the line to stop. The truck driver had no room. Even when the lady in the car reversed as far as the car behind her permitted, it was not enough for the truck driver. Then it was a chain reaction. Truck 1. Pole 0.
My daughter was upset. She was concerned that someone would have to pay for the pole, and that someone would have to put the new pole in place. She didn’t understand why the lady did what she did, and she thought that she should be punished for putting the truck in an impossible situation to navigate. At the same time, she wondered if the truck driver would be punished because he did drive up on the curb and tear down the pole. This is where my teachable moment came into play.
We can easily agree that the lady should have stopped where the law says she should stop. We can easily agree that no one should be driving on curbs, though as a truck driver daughter, I understand why it had to go down that way. If the lady would not have pulled up so far, then the truck driver likely would not have driven on the curb. Nonetheless, this is a situation where we can argue that both parties did something wrong. Just because the one party caused the other person to do something wrong, doesn’t make the other person’s wrong any better.
Consider now, the topic of sin. Sometimes we do something that is bad, and then we place that blame on someone else “making” us do it. No one makes you do it, but somehow it seems like they do when we do something wrong. Why is that? We don’t like to be wrong. We don’t like to be found guilty. We don’t want to look like the bad guy. The other person made us do it. When we say this, it makes us feel better. It takes away our responsibility. It makes us feel like our dirty hands are not-so-dirty. But it is a façade. The truth is, wrong is wrong and right is right. If you lose your temper and act in anger because someone sinned against you, then your hands are dirty. You are guilty. There is no, “she made me do it,” that will change your guilt.
What can we do knowing that we cannot push off blame? Accept responsibility for your actions. Confess. Repent. When you do this, you accept the forgiveness our merciful God offers. This will result in something much better than blaming another could ever achieve. Forgiveness. Spiritual Growth. Integrity.
“People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.” – Proverbs 28:13 [NLT]
“The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.’ Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’” – Genesis 3:12-13 [ESV]
When I reached back to the bag rack, I noticed that there was a bunch of crumbled bags that were placed inside the first bag on the rack. They must have fallen off the rack, come off with other bags, or posed a problem by being too difficult to open during bagging. As a result, rather than try to open each one and properly hang it on the rack, someone decided to just toss them all into another bag so they were out of sight and out of mind. That helped the person to deal with the situation, but the situation was not resolved. The bags still needed fixed and reattached.
Each bag had to be taken out of the bag, opened, and attached to the bag rack. It took a bit of time but it got done. While doing the not-so-thrilling task, I considered how we all do this at times. We push things off. We let things for other people. My kids do it in the kitchen. They make a small spill when pouring some milk or juice and it sits. They could easily clean it up with a rag and it would only take a few seconds. Instead they leave it and it becomes more difficult to clean when I notice it there. A spouse may leave the car nearly empty of gas so the other person has to drive to the gas station to fill it up. A co-worker might leave something for the next shift or for another co-worker simply because “they can do it.”
We live in a culture that has a problem accepting responsibility. I know I’m guilty of it and when I look around, I can tell that I am not the only one. We do not want to take responsibility. We do not want to be accountable. It is so much easier to push things off. Today, be accountable. Take responsibility. Remember that in any and everything you do, it can be an opportunity to give God the glory He deserves. Don’t just stash some crumbled bags away for the next person. Don’t leave your work area dirty for your co-worker. Don’t let the milk sit for the next person. Take initiative.
“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31 [NLT]