Blame Shifters

‘And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”’ [Genesis 3:11-13 NIV]

1406450_24653656I have been reading Genesis recently, and loving the story of creation all over again. But when I got to what happened in the Garden of Eden, something stood out to me.

God told Adam and Eve not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It was the one thing He asked them not to do. But the serpent came, Eve was talked into it and then passed the fruit on to Adam. When God came looking for them, they hid — something I’ve seen my children do when they know they’ve been naughty.

Then, the blame shifting started. Adam said ‘it was that woman you gave me – she made me do it.’ And, of course, Eve passed the buck on to the serpent – ‘that slimy snake tricked me.’ No-one wanted to take the blame for this act of disobedience.

1340355_50366791The thing that I noticed more than other times I’ve read it is that all three of them received discipline for their part in it. None got away unscathed. The serpent was cursed to slither on his belly all his days and be at enmity with the woman. Eve was punished with pain in childbirth. And Adam was forced to labour and groan over weed infested soil, to provide food for his family.

When something goes wrong, an argument ensues, or a relationship is broken, there is always more than one side to the story. Usually both sides (or more if more are involved) have a degree of fault to be owned. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all own our own responsibility for mistakes, rather than blame shift? Relationships would be restored much quicker if we did.

Published in: on 14th January, 2013 at 10:02 am  Leave a Comment  
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‘When Jesus had finished saying these things,the crowds were amazed at his teaching because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.’ [Matthew 7:28 NIV]

The Sermon on the Mount Carl Heinrich Bloch (1834-1890)

This verse is written at the end of the sermon on the mount, which covers three chapters of Matthew’s gospel. It is one of the most revolutionary pieces of teaching in the bible, especially for the people living in the time of Christ. Those people were used to the Pharisaic teaching which exaggerated minor details of the biblical law while ignoring the important heart attitudes those same laws tried to instill.

Jesus took everything they knew and turned it upside down. Or rather, he set the standard much higher, showing that kingdom living was more than just keeping a bunch of rules. It is easy to get caught up in the ‘if I follow the ten commandments, I’ll stay on God’s good side’ thought process. But, the way Jesus taught, it’s not enough to just not murder, or not lie, or not commit adultery.

Jesus showed that the heart attitude behind those kinds of sins need to be dealt with as well, not just the physical act. He said that if we hold anger toward someone, we are still in the wrong. He said that if we lust after someone other than our spouse, we are thinking in an adulterous manner.

And while it is good to give to good causes, and while it is good to fast and pray, if we do it for the world to see and therefore to boost our egos, we’ve got the whole concept wrong. God sees that as pride, not an act of humility.

No wonder the people in Israel were amazed at Jesus’ teaching. His words are still just as powerful, challenging and life-changing today.

Published in: on 26th November, 2012 at 10:28 am  Comments (4)  
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Photo-A-Day: Tiny

The present bane of my life is mice. Too many of them. Such tiny creatures that causes big problems. I had been hearing the noises in the walls and the little pitter-patter across the floor early in the morning — actually running under my chair while I was writing in the pre-dawn hours — for weeks. I set up traps to no avail. I shifted them several times, and still the little blighters managed to evade my ambush.

Until I found the hole. Then I placed a trap strategically, right in front of said hole, and another trap a few metres away. Needless to say, I have since caught several mice trying to invade my home. All that remains is to seal the gap they’ve gnawed through my skirting board and throw some bait up in the roof. Problem solved.

But, I am reminded of that verse which says “Catch for us the foxes,  the little foxes that ruin the vineyards,  our vineyards that are in bloom,” from Song of Solomon 2:15. Sometimes we allow little sins to run riot in our life. We might be sorry and try to change, but unless we get to the source, where the temptation lies and be honest with ourselves, we’re not really going to rout out those things and see a difference in our lives.

So, let’s get those little foxes and mice, and make our houses and hearts clean again. 🙂

Published in: on 5th April, 2012 at 6:53 pm  Comments (2)  
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Beautiful Grace

In order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—” [Ephesians 2:7-8 NIV]

Last week I talked about sin and only mentioned grace at the end. This week I want to focus on grace. What is grace exactly? Someone suggested to my hubby and I the other day, that God cannot bless or heal if you are walking in sin. But that is precisely where grace steps in.

Grace does not condone sin or turn a blind eye to it. Grace does not ignore justice either. Grace loves and blesses in spite of our failings. It shifts the punishment onto the giver of grace.

We only need to look at life as a parent to get a small picture of how this works. Your child is behaving in disobedience and as a result hurts themselves. Or, against your advice, they make a bad financial decision and end up in difficulty. Do they deserve it? Possibly – that is justice – the consequences of their actions. Are we disappointed by their behaviour? Of course, it is only natural. But, do we withhold comfort and aid? Do we refuse to kiss their wounds? No. We take them in our arms, give them first aid and comfort or help them out with money, and gently teach them the error of their ways. That is grace. In spite of their lack of wisdom or bad decisions, we love and assist them.

And God’s grace is far more encompassing than that. Jesus took the punishment for all of our sins, fulfilling the justice required. And God teaches us, through our mistakes, how to walk a better life. He picks us up, dusts us off, and encourages us to try again to live according to His purposes.

How have you seen God’s grace at work in your own life? Thank Him for it today.

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” [1 Peter 5:10 NIV]

Published in: on 2nd August, 2011 at 6:16 am  Comments (2)  
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Imperfectly Perfect

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” [Romans 3:23-24 NIV]

Sin is such a pervasive thing. And it’s so small. Sin is simply missing the mark, falling short. God is perfect and holy and righteous and anything that falls short of that is sin basically. We sin just by being imperfect, let alone committing any offense such as lying etc.

It is impossible for us to reach such a standard. We fail even in our own eyes every day, not living up to our own expectations, let alone meeting the expectations of a holy God. Just as Paul says – “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” [Rom 7:19 NIV] Imagine the burden carried by the Jews of the Old Testament who had to sacrifice animals for their sin daily. Impossible!

That’s why Jesus death and God’s grace are so amazing. We can stop stressing and striving to be perfect. God’s grace has covered it all. We still do our best, but know with great peace, that He forgives the rest in His grace. He sees us as the perfect beings we wish we were, through Christ. No guilt, no shame, just rest and grace. Love it!

Published in: on 26th July, 2011 at 6:08 am  Leave a Comment  
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If God wasn’t real …

The other day my husband and I were asked if we would continue to try to live a good life — ie always trying to do the right thing — if God were not real. Our very quick answer was: no, why would we? You see, to us, the whole issue of wrong and right, guilt and consequences becomes irrelevant if there is no God.

This conviction comes all the way from Genesis, just after God created man. God wanted His creation to live in innocence and peace, and to have that life forever. He gave Adam and Eve the Tree of Life for that purpose. But there was one tree He asked them not to eat from: The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. That tree would open their eyes to the difference between right and wrong, the feelings of shame that come with wrong, and ultimate death due to sinful choices and corruption in our inner man. See Genesis 2 & 3.

Of course, Satan convinced them to eat that very fruit, and that knowledge of right and wrong in our conscience has been passed down to every generation since. But, as we said to our friend, if God wasn’t real, and none of that story was true, then we would call into question even the existence of wrong and right. Every man would live for himself and for his own pleasure. There would be no reason not to.

In fact, I think it is played out in much of our society, where people have rejected belief in God — corruption has taken hold. You see it in the smallest things. Eg someone gets a speeding fine and their reaction is “I was only five ks over, I didn’t do anything wrong.” Rules become irrelevant. People live according to their own agendas.

Not for me thanks. I prefer to believe that God is real, right and wrong are very real, sin and judgement are very real. But more importantly, I believe in a God who forgave all of my wrong decisions and sin and has given me a place with Him in Heaven when I am finished here on earth. Praise God for His grace!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. [John 3:16 NIV]

Published in: on 28th June, 2011 at 6:12 am  Comments (6)  
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