Sometimes it feels like the world is stacked against us. Problem after problem, inconvenience after inconvenience—it all builds up until someone cuts in front of us in line, then...kablewy. Suddenly, everything is this person's fault. They made me mad. They tested my patience. They made me late for the thing.
Blaming others is a way of redirecting our negative feelings and/or erasing our responsibility or part in bad circumstances. It's hard to admit our mistakes, isn't it? Putting the blame on someone else may seem like an easy way out, but it is not loving or humble behavior. Part of maturing in our faith is taking responsibility for our own actions and responses—especially when something goes wrong. If blaming others is a regular behavior pattern in our lives, then we need to closely examine our hearts.
No one likes hearing they're wrong or that they've made a mistake. Strong emotional pain often makes slowing down and examining the situation nearly impossible. Humility can be difficult to practice in those situations. But as Christians, we are to be humble and take ownership of our own wrongdoing (Colossians 3:12; Matthew 5:3, 21-24). Here are some steps for interrupting and redirecting the thought process that leads to blaming others:
If we have examined the situation and find that another person is truly responsible, then the Bible gives us steps to resolve the conflict (Matthew 18:15-17). First, we need to talk to that person privately, gently and lovingly explaining the offense or mistake. Give them a chance to speak and make efforts to genuinely listen. They may come around, and peace will be reestablished.
If they refuse to listen one-on-one, then we can take a friend or two who can mediate the discussion. We ought to maintain respect, mercy, and compassion because we all know how hard it is to be called out and admit our mistakes.
If they still refuse to reconcile, then we can advance to authority figures in our lives—such as parents or a pastor at church. If they continue to deny responsibility, then we must let them be and waste no more energy in trying to resolve the issue. We can put the matter completely in God's hands and free ourselves from the responsibility of resolution.
Of course, conflicts aren't always resolved easily. Sometimes the other person wants to play the blame game even if you aren't, and there's not much you can do to change their mind.
There IS one more option though, and once again, it requires humility from us. Instead of taking offense or trying to make someone admit responsibility, we could extend love and forgiveness—just as Jesus does for us (1 Peter 4:8; Colossians 3:13). Forgiving others, even if they don't "deserve" it, glorifies God's mercy and grace (Luke 6:36; Ephesians 2:4-5). Instead of focusing on how the other person made a mistake, we could focus on their feelings of shame and hurt, seeing things from their perspective. When we shift our goal from finding the "culprit" to helping another in love, we can overlook honest mistakes.
Overlooking an offense requires us to extend grace to the person who has offended. Proverbs 19:11 says, "A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense." Truthfully, no one "owes" us anything. Being included, understood, or respected by others was never a promise. Jesus tells us to "turn the other cheek" when wrong is done to us (Matthew 5:38-48; Romans 12:20). This isn't to say we shouldn't be wise with whom we trust, but forgiveness is separate from trust (Matthew 10:16). Ultimately, our responsibility is to hand the conflict over to God and trust Him to resolve it in His wisdom and timing.
Regardless of whose "fault" it is or who made the mistake, as followers of Christ, we should always strive for humility, honesty, and lovingkindness in how we treat each other. We shouldn't make ourselves scapegoats for every mistake that happens, nor should we place blame on others when we are clearly in the wrong. Mistakes do not make people "lesser" or less valuable to God. When emotions run high and things are off the ideal path, take a moment to breathe. Ask God for wisdom and help in honestly examining the situation for truth (James 1:5), then respond in a way that honors and glorifies Jesus (Galatians 5:22-23).
REFERENCES: 1. Definition of humility. (n.d.). In Dictionary by Merriam-Webster: America's most-trusted online dictionary. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/humility [Accessed 7-10-2023]
Blaming others is a way of redirecting our negative feelings and/or erasing our responsibility in bad circumstances. Putting the blame on someone else may seem like an easy way out, but it is not loving or humble behavior. Regardless of whose "fault" it is or who made the mistake, as followers of Christ, we should always strive for humility, honesty, and lovingkindness in how we treat each other (Ephesians 4:31-32). We shouldn't make ourselves scapegoats for every mistake that happens, nor should we place blame on others when we are clearly in the wrong. Mistakes do not make people "lesser" or less valuable to God. Even if a person has truly wronged us, we should strive for understanding and forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-22). When emotions run high and things are off the ideal path, take a moment to breathe. Ask God for wisdom and help in honestly examining the situation for truth (James 1:5), then respond in a way that honors and glorifies Jesus (Galatians 5:22-23).
Vivian loves learning, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She is dedicated to helping people learn more about Jesus and is ready to help in any way she can. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, cooking, drawing, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, you can find her soaking up the sunshine or going on an adventure.
Cat is the web producer and editor of 412teens.org. She loves audiobooks, feeding the people she cares about, and using Christmas lights to illuminate a room. When Catiana is not writing, cooking, or drawing, she enjoys spending time with her two teenage kids, five socially-awkward cats, and her amazing friend-amily.