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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Dr. Charles Stanley » Charles Stanley - The Blame Game

Charles Stanley - The Blame Game

Charles Stanley - The Blame Game
TOPICS: Blame, Responsibility

The title of this message is the title of the oldest game in all of humanity. It is a game all of us have played, probably many times, in our life. And one in which just two people can play it. Or, I might say about it also that, it's not a game that creates the best atmosphere in the world. And it is a game that really isn't a whole lot of fun. And it's a game that nobody ultimately wins. And it's a game that was played by the very first family in the Bible. And that game, the name of that game, is "The Blame Game". All of us at some time or the other have played that game. Blaming someone else for our circumstances or for what they've done to us. And so, I want you to read, if you will, in Genesis chapter three. In this very first book of the Bible, very first family, they played this game. And you'll recall, for example, in this third chapter that Satan has tempted Eve. And she has partaken of the tree of good and evil which God forbid her to do.

And, of course, gave it to her husband. And so, I want us to begin reading in this eighth verse. And the Scripture says, and Adam and Eve now have sinned against God and the Bible says, "And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, 'Where are you?' And he said, 'I heard the sound of Thee in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid myself.' And He said, 'Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?' And the man said, 'The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.' And the Lord God said to the woman, What is this you have done?' And the woman said, 'The serpent deceived me, and I ate.' And the Lord God said to the serpent...'" and He didn't say anything.

You know why? Because there wasn't anything to say. He knew exactly where he was. And he knew exactly what was going on and what was happening. And so, there wasn't any point in him making any excuse about what was going on. Now, all of us have played this game. We've played it when we were children. If you had brothers and sisters, and somebody got after you, your parent got after you and it was your sister's fault. Well, to hear her tell the story, it was your fault. And so the blame game started as children. The problem is that many people never grow up when it comes to playing that game. You would think that we'd be smart enough after a while to realize that game, nobody wins that game. It didn't win then, it doesn't win now. And yet we still play it. And the reason we play it is because somehow we think if we can play that game, we'll win and we'll be better off if we win. There is no way to win in the blame game.

And what I want us to do is to look at this and I want you to be honest, as I've had to be in my own heart, to ask myself the question, is there anybody I'm blaming for anything? Because, when you and I open the Word of God and look at reality, there're a lot of folks who have little subtle blames that they're using on people. They don't maybe say it. And then there are some people who have vehement blame. I mean they're just absolutely just bitterly blaming someone for something that has happened to them, or, the way they treated them.

So let me say right up front. I'm not talking about being blamed for something you didn't do, or necessarily, or something you did. I'm simply saying that the blame game doesn't work. It doesn't work no matter whether you are guilty of what somebody has accused you of and you blame them. Or you have been blamed. It doesn't make any difference. Because the issue is, what is the right response when we sin against God? And what is the right response when we are accused of hurting someone when we did not, or did not mean to? So, when someone hurts us, what is our response? Do I have a right to blame and to lay blame and to claim blame and to lay the fault at someone else when they have wronged me? Well, whether it's in a church, or whether it's in a school, or whether it's in the government, and we certainly see that going on, or whether it's in your home, or whether it's among your friends, the blame game, according to the scripture, just isn't God's way of doing things.

Now, I want us to look at it for just a moment because what it is in essence is this. It is an attempt for me or to you, it is an attempt on our part to shift the responsibility for what's happening to someone else. For example, if I wrong someone and I don't want to assume responsibility, then I'm going to blame my circumstance or blame someone else for something that they said or they did. Or, for example, let's say that I'm having some bad feeling about something and so, to get out of my depression I'm just going to blame somebody else. In other words, I'm going to find, and you can always find some reason to blame some circumstance or someone else for what you're feeling.

Now there are times when people do hurt us. No question about it. They say things, they do things that really and truly deeply hurt us. Now the question is this. What is my response to be when I am genuinely, I mean, genuinely, willfully, wronged by someone else? And do I have the right to say? Well, here's what you did. What you did is that you did me wrong. And therefore, because you wronged me, this is the way I feel. And the way I feel's because you made me feel this way. Because I wouldn't feel this way if you hadn't of made me feel that way. And so, what I am doing is I am shifting, I am disowning what is rightfully mine. Let's say, for example, that you did wrong me.

And so I say, "You are to blame, and therefore you need to pay". What am I doing? I am saying you're responsible and therefore you need to pay. But do I have the right, do I have the right to hold against you? Do I have the right to blame you? Do I have the right to have ill will toward you even when you have wronged me? Well, the truth is we don't. Just because someone hurts me does not mean that I have the right to hurt them back or to have ill will toward them or to defend myself in some fashion or to blame them. And so, as long as you and I can shift the blame, what we're saying is, well, you know, in fact, if we can shift the blame, we could get away with a lot of things. But the truth is, we can't do it. And there's no, place in the scripture anywhere I find, anywhere where somebody is shifting blame and somehow we're getting away with it.

Now, if you'll think about folks who do this. If you'll think about people that you're around who are always blaming someone else. What are they usually doing? Their conversation is other-oriented. In other words, it's how I feel, what he did, this is how they hurt me. And so, if you think about it, you don't really want to be around somebody who's always blaming someone else. What they're doing is they refuse to assume responsibility for their actions, if they have wronged someone else, or for their attitude, even though someone else has wronged them. Now we don't like that part. We think, "Well, I know". Well, you mean to tell me that if someone wrongs me, that I'm responsible for my response? Absolutely we are, why? Because they cannot control us. No one else can control your responses. And they're not really responsible for your responses.

You say, "Well, you mean to tell me that if somebody hurts me deeply, that they're not responsible for the way I feel"? Because you and I choose the way we feel. Listen. All of us can come up with something that someone has done to us and hurt us deeply. You know what you'll find? You going to find somebody else who's hurt more deeply than you've ever been hurt. Who's been wronged in worse ways than you and I've been wronged. And you know what? They have this sweet, loving, godly spirit about them, why? Because they chose not to respond in an ungodly fashion. And you see, if we have a free will, you and I choose how we're going to respond. Now, Adam could have said, "God, we are naked. We are hiding out. We sinned against you. We are ashamed and we are so sorry. And is there any... what will You do? How do You handle it when we do things like this"? No, he said, "The woman You gave me, She's the one who blew it. She gave it to me".

God didn't accept their answers and He doesn't accept ours. I cannot hold someone else indebted to me for something they do wrong and walk in the Spirit of God and be a godly man. Or you can't be that and be a godly woman. We can't do it. It's not even a question of whether we've been hurt or not. Or whether we will be hurt or not. Listen. We all have been hurt. We all gonna be hurt. That's just part of living in a world where there is sin and disobedience and wickedness and violence. We going to get it, but the issue is, listen, not whether we going to be hurt or not, or whether we have, but how do we respond? Godly men and women don't respond with blaming someone else. That is merely an escape mechanism to refuse to assume responsibility for the way they are reacting in that situation.

Now, people don't like to hear that because they say, "Boy, I know but you, yeah, but if you just knew how I hurt". Doesn't make any difference. How did Jesus respond? Did He say to all of those who had wronged Him until He got to the cross, "I have forgiven all of you who've spoken badly against Me, but this will not..." No, what did He say? He said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do". You see, He laid down the pattern for us. He, listen, if anybody deserved being blamed, that bunch of Pharisees and Sadducees, they're the ones who deserve the full blame. They're the ones who got the people stirred up and lied about Jesus. Got a whole crowd of people at the trial to lie about Him. Were they guilty? Absolutely they were guilty. Unquestionably guilty.

And in fact, they were so evil they said, listen, "Let His blood be upon our children and our children's children and our grandchildren for centuries to come. He's so vile and wicked we hate this man. We despise this man". What did Jesus say? "Well now, when you get to hate and despising Me", no. He said, "Father, forgive them. They don't understand what they're doing". You and I cannot justify a wrong response to those who have wronged us, no matter what they do to us. Now, isn't it interesting, how believers, often times, will listen to a friend and say. And that's friend will say, "Well, let me tell you what so-and-so did to me". "They did"? "Yes, they did". "That is terrible"! I'll tell you if I were you, here's what I would do.

And so they decide what they going to do. And then that adds to what they're already thinking about they were going to do. Then they call another friend and say, "Let me tell you what happened to me. Well, let me tell you what's going on". "That, I tell you, I just don't understand how you can handle that. Poor little old thing, you". Next thing you got pity party going. And so what happens? Then you just multiplying. And then what do they do? Then they just start shelling this out to everybody. And when you see them coming, you know what's coming. They going to tell you all about their troubles. And how they've been mistreated. And how bad off things were in their life. And, oh, how they've been mistreated and they're having this pity party. And the truth is, those of us who don't like that kind of stuff don't even want to see them coming, amen? We don't even want to see them coming. You know why? People like that are stuck in the past. Blamers, blamers are not living today and living with the... they're stuck in the past.

Now, think about this for a moment. God did not say to Adam and Eve, "You poor things". He didn't say that. He said, "Adam, by the sweat of your brow, you're gonna have to live from this point on. Eve, you're gonna have pain in childbearing. And, Satan, you're gonna crawl on your belly". Isn't it interesting that God heard their excuses? And you know what? He ignored their blame. The Bible says God doesn't change. He is going to ignore my blaming someone else today just like He ignored their blaming someone else in those days. Now, think about this for a moment. All of us, I'm sure, pray at times. And so, let's say that you bring something to the Lord and some difficulty and hardship. Maybe somebody's wronged you and so forth.

Have you ever heard God say to you, "Now you and so-and-so. Now the two of you, now the bunch of you all". Whenever God has ever spoken in my heart, you know who He dealt with? Me. He doesn't deal with me and Me and them, me and him, me and her. He deals with me. Because you see, I'm the only one I'm responsible for. I am not responsible for someone else's reactions. I'm not responsible for their actions. Only thing I'm responsible for is my life and how I respond to the other person. I can love them dearly. Or I don't have to love them dearly. But if I don't, I'm just acting in an ungodly fashion. So, God doesn't deal with us and say, "You all". God's never said to me, "Charles, you all". "It's Charles Stanley. I'm talking to you about you. And if I get you straightened out, you let me deal with them".

And so God isn't going to hold me responsible for what somebody else does. Now it doesn't mean that if I hurt somebody else, that they may not have hurts. And it does not mean, for example, that when people grow up in bad situations and circumstances, that a lot of the fault couldn't... would be there parents'. No question about that. But, you know what? Even at that, who is responsible? Because each individual is a free moral agent, we choose how to respond and we choose how to feel. Now there are people who go through extremely painful circumstances in life, and they work through it. And what happens? They come out of it, whether it is emotionally, mentally, psychologically, however you want to put it. They come out of it strong, vibrant, valuable servants of God, or valuable people in the Kingdom of God.

Somebody else go through the same thing and they have a pity party and they end up spending their life blaming, blaming, blaming. Down in the dumps. And what they're doing, they're living in the past. A blamer lives in the past. A blamer gets stuck in the muck and mire of their own self-pity and their own sense of vindictiveness. They want to somehow repay. They've got to repay. The truth is that in forgiveness, there's no such thing as repayment. In forgiveness, the repayment is over. And so when you look to see what happened with Adam and Eve, when God dealt with them, He didn't say, "Okay, y'all line up. Adam and Eve, here's what's going to happen". He said, "Adam, you're responsible for your sin. Eve, you're responsible for your sin. And Satan, you're responsible for your sin". What does that say? You and I cannot, we absolutely cannot blame someone else. We can't do it. Even though they've hurt us, the only godly response is to be forgiving.

Now I know that that is extremely difficult sometimes. When you hurt so bad and you've got five hundred reasons that somebody has wronged you. Or you find yourself in a situation where you think, "Well, Lord, now, if I hadn't grown up this way and if I hadn't of had this, and if my parents hadn't, all of these things". All of those things may be true. You may have been abused as a child. You may have been mistreated and you may have grown up in a bad situation, but you know what? You and I are free moral agents. And we have the Spirit of God on the inside of us who will enable us. Listen. The Bible says the fruit of the Spirit is vengeance, hostility, anger, bitterness. It doesn't say anything of the sort. The Bible says the fruit of the Spirit, that is, the Holy Spirit who lives within us, the fruit of the Spirit is love and joy and, listen to this, peace and goodness and self-control. These are the fruits of the Spirit.

Now, it doesn't say the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, and gentleness and self-control and and patience unless, except, if, and but, doesn't say any of that. It just says the fruit of the Spirit. Does that mean that I can love people only when I'm loved? I can have peace only when the situation is created. For example, God says, "My peace I give unto you, not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled unless, except and if and but". No, because you see, if someone else could control my life, you know what that means? They could control whether I have peace or not. No one else can control my thinking, your thinking. I can have peace if everybody around me hates me. I can have joy in my heart no matter what anybody thinks. I can have a sense of the love of God in my heart, no matter how people treat me, why? Because they can't make you feel anything but what you consent to feel.

Listen. We give our enemies the right when we say, "I'm going to feel terrible toward them". We have to consent to that. And God has put a limitation on all temptation. Somebody says, "Well, wouldn't have done that if God hadn't... if God let... why did God let me be tempted like that"? Well, listen to this verse. "No temptation has taken you, but such as is common to man, but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted more than you're able, but will with the temptation also make a way of escape that you may be able to bear it". Now, so when I come to God and say, "Lord, the reason I fell into this temptation is the temptation was so strong, God, I just couldn't overcome it".

Oops, wait a minute. 1 Corinthians 10:13: "No temptation has taken you but such as is common to man, but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted more than you're able to bear". Can't blame God. Can't blame the tempter, can't blame the experience, can't blame anybody. We are free moral agents. We decide how we're going to respond to people who hurt us. We decide whether we going to be obedient or disobedient. And we are responsible. And the blame game is an attempt to eliminate, to escape our responsibility. Now, the blame game has some very serious consequences. And I want us to think about two sections of these consequences. One of them is personal consequences that come our way. And secondly, national consequences that happen to a whole nation. Well, what is the first one. Well, naturally, the first one is this. If I'm going to play the blame game, what that will do is encourage me to sin. Because if I can sin and shift the responsibility to somebody else, then I won't feel so bad.

So, it will encourage sin. That's certainly one simple thing. Secondly, it is certainly going to stunt my spiritual growth. Because listen to this carefully, I am only going to grow as far as I am where I start blaming someone else and still hold that against them. That's as far as I'm going. You see, you can't hold blame and an unforgiving spirit toward someone else, and a vengeful spirit toward someone else and just grow in the Lord. You can come listen to all the sermons you want to listen to. And this is the reason people go to church for years and years and years and they don't grow. They are still spiritual pygmies. Somehow, they never grow up. And part of the reason is because something happened back there in their life that they want to blame their parents, or blame someone who hurt them. Or blame the circumstances, blame their boss.

They didn't get their breaks in life and they've not been able to move along in life as they wanted to. Part of the reason is they got stuck back there. Instead of being forgiving and saying, "Okay, God, this is what happened. I forgive. What's the next step"? God will move them on. And what happens is we get stuck. Likewise, we damage our fellowship with God. You cannot be in oneness with God holding somebody else, blaming someone else for something going on in your life. I am responsible for my responses. I am responsible for what I do. I can't blame someone else. Another part of it is this. And that is when we think about the consequences of blaming someone else, it promotes terrible disharmony.

For example, let's say, now, someone has wronged you. And you call one of your dear friends who happens to like this other person. And you say, "Let me tell you what she did to me". And so, you tell them what she did. So, this person says, "Ah! Can't believe they'd do such a thing as that". So, what does that person do? They call their friend, they say, "Did you know what so-and-so did to so-and-so"? Now remember this, That the second person isn't going to tell it like you told it. You can mark that one down. They not going to tell it like you told it. There's no way. It doesn't happen. They've had all kind of psychological tests and take a piece of paper. And put a mark on a piece of paper in one place and pass it around and everybody look at it. And then they give them a sheet of paper, and wait a little while, not very long, give them a sheet of paper and say, "You put the mark on the paper just like you saw it".

Did you know about 99%, I think, is the average, people get it wrong? So, when somebody says, "Let me tell you why this happens". Somebody says, "Let me tell you what so-and-so did to me". So first of all, you get caught up in the emotion. And so the emotion gets stirring in you. So the next time you tell it, what are you going to do? Well, you got to add a little bit of your pain to it. And you've got to add a little bit of... in other words, you want to put a little vengeance in there so you've got yours to it. So, by the time it gets to the tenth person, the first one is guilty of murder. There'd be no way. So, what happens? Blaming other people creates great disharmony. Because, you see, it's not God's way. God's way is forgiveness. God's way is laying it down, not blaming someone else.

Laying it, even though they did it, what's my response? I am responsible for my response and my response is they're forgiven. Every once in a while, somebody will walk down the aisle and they've heard me say something. Or whatever it may be and they took offense or maybe there's just something about me they don't like. And somewhere along the way they get straightened out and they walk down the aisle and say, "Pastor, I need to ask you to forgive me". You know what my first response is? You're forgiven. Doesn't make any difference what it is.

Now, think about this. Think about holding something against someone. They don't even know it. Who suffers in the blame game? The blamer! He or she is the sufferer. And so, it doesn't fit who we are. In fact, when you think about the consequences, we're the ones who suffer, so it promotes disharmony. It promotes bitterness because the longer you hold onto blame, here's what they did. Here's what happened to me because he did this, because she did that. And this is the reason I'm the way I am, it's because of them. You know what happens? Bitterness, hostility, anger, all the junky stuff that we don't want in our lives. That's what happens. Not only that, it hurts the testimony of the person who's blaming. And not only that, it oftentimes discredits the person whom you're blaming, especially, it may be something that they did and they didn't even realize they did it.

It wasn't even something they intended to do. Even if they did, listen, even if somebody wrongs you and me, we do not have the right before God to discredit. In any way to hurt that person's image before others. Or in any way, to cause cause their personality and their reputation to be marred in some fashion. We don't have a right. And you're not going to ever find Jesus doing it. And you're not going to ever find him approving anybody who did. I am responsible for my responses no matter what. The blame game does not fit a child of God. And the consequences are devastating to it. Now, personally. What about nationally? Well, do you remember a few years ago there was a comedian: Flip Wilson? And every time he got caught, or he did something wrong, you know what he said? What did he say? Say it again. Isn't it amazing that you all remember that? You, isn't it amazing that you remember?

"The devil made me do it". Well, who does that sound like? Who does that sound like in the Bible? Eve! That, listen, things haven't changed, have they? And so, people still say, "Oh, well, the devil made me do it". My friend, that's not a joke. In other words, we can't get by with simply saying, "The devil made me do it". Now, what's happened is this. We have developed in this nation of ours an idea that's like victimization. That is, we are now victims of all of these things that have happened to us. And this is why you and I watch the television, read the newspaper, and we're absolutely aghast at this. Somebody can walk into a store, or their business and just shoot down five or six people. Or they can just destroy a whole family. Or do the most vicious, cruel things that I wouldn't even mention here. And so, they take them to court. They put them in jail. They take them to court. And they put them on the stand.

And they finally conclude, "Well, we're not going to put them to the electric chair, we're not going to do any of these things. We're going to let them free, because, you see, this is the kind of background they had when they grew up". Well, let me ask you this. How many of you grew up in a wonderful background? Raise your hand. Four, five. Well, that means all the rest of us, right! That's exactly right! And so, they commit all kinds of crime and they say, "Well, but their parents". And so here people can go in and absolutely destroy their parents and murder them in the most bloodthirsty way. And then they put them on a trial, and put them on a stand. And they finally conclude, "Well, they were abused by their parents". Do you think God said, "Well, you abused by your parents, therefore you are not guilty for murdering your parents".

Absolutely not! And so what we do, we undermine our whole judicial system by saying, "We excuse you because your circumstances were not good". Well, I'm here to tell you, you know, I would've been in prison just like a lot of you other folks would have been if we'd have gone on circumstance. But by the grace of God, God is willing to step into anybody's life who's willing to receive him. And a lot of those folks have rejected God. Some of the worst criminals went to Sunday School and went to church and heard the gospel. But they made a choice not to receive God. Then who we going to blame? Society? So, what we want to do?

We want to shirk responsibility every way we possibly can. But according to Romans 14 and according to 1 Corinthians 3 the Bible says you and I will stand individually. For everyone must receive according to his own deeds that which is done in the body. We're going to be judged according to ourselves. We stand before God, Isn't going to be you and myself and a whole bunch of folks standing there. He says, "I am going to be judged for my works". That is, my actions and my attitudes, regardless of what someone else did.

Now, that doesn't mean, listen carefully, now, I don't want to be hard-hearted. That doesn't mean that God does not take into account difficulty and hardship in a person's life because some people, listen. The final decision of how that person responds in life, they're responsible for it. We've created an atmosphere that you're not responsible if you've had a tough time. And what's happening is, it has eroded our whole nation and we're all suffering as a result of it.

Now, I want to close here with simply saying this. There's only one way to handle the blame game. Just one way. To be man and woman enough, mature enough, to assume responsibility for our actions. When we wrong someone else, we assume responsibility. We don't look back yonder to find somebody to blame or what emotionally caused us to act a certain way. Now, we've all done that at times. I'm sure I have. But the blame game doesn't fit who we are.

So, I have to first of all, assume responsibility that whatever I do in life, I'm responsible for. Secondly, I have to assume this responsibility. No matter who wrongs me and who hurts me. I do not have the right to blame them and to hold it against them, which means I must be forgiving, which means I don't hold it against them anymore, which means, listen, their debt toward me is paid. It's paid.

You say, "Well, how did it get paid if they wronged you? How did it get paid"? I made a choice to forgive them. And my choice to forgive them means the debt's paid. They don't owe me anything. They don't have to do anything to make me feel better. They don't have to come crawling and creeping and saying this, that, and the other... none of that. When Jesus went to the cross, what happened? All the sin of all the world was placed upon Him. And He died in your behalf and my half. And what did He atone for? What did He pay for? The sin of the whole world. So, all of my sins are forgiven.

Now, if I sin against God, my fellowship with Him is broken and then I have to deal with that. But that is nothing that can cause me to be lost and separated from God eternally, why? That sin-debt was paid eternally by the Lord Jesus Christ. Now let me ask you a question. What right do you and I have to hold anything against anybody, no matter what they do to us, when God doesn't hold it against us? Don't spend your life carrying emotional baggage that will ultimately destroy you and cheat you out of life's best. The Father is willing to forgive. And you know wonderful thing about what He says when He forgives, He says He remembers our sins against us no more. The blame game is over.

And Father, we thank You for loving us that way. We thank You for Your wonderful kindness toward us and Your patience. We still act like children, Lord, sometime and we're ashamed of ourselves. We thank You for your forgiveness and pray that You'll keep on growing us up, teaching us how to be godly and to follow the pattern of our Savior. In whose name we pray, amen.

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