Who hasn't played the Blame Game? After all, nobody wants to get into trouble or get caught doing something they aren't supposed to be doing! And certainly none of us ever wants to be proven wrong! It's so much easier to just cast the blame onto someone else, or give excuses, or just not take responsibility. Even if we can't completely exonerate ourselves, casting off some of the blame onto someone else can help spread the muck around so it doesn't all fall onto our heads!
This isn't something that is a struggle for us today, the Bible is full of examples of people - even Biblical heroes - who struggled with it as well. What does God say about it and how can we stop playing the Blame Game and become the people of integrity God commands us to be?
Episode 94 - The Blame Game
Rose, last night John and I were watching “Forged in Fire”. In case you don’t know, that’s the show where it’s a competition centered around making knives, and swords and just about anything that has a blade.
I only know cause I’ve heard you talk about it before…
Why are you telling us this, Chris?
We’ll, last night they made Russian spades. And the one guy put his girlfriend’s name on the handle of his. He said, “For good luck. And if not, I’ll know who’s to blame!” Obviously it was meant to be funny; he wouldn’t really blame his girlfriend if he lost the competition. But that’s the topic of our today’s episode…. Blaming!
It’s a common sin that plagues all of us – playing the blame game – which sometimes includes making excuses.
We all do it and today we’re going to look at reasons people do it, ways people do it and what the underlying sins are that cause us to blame other people or other things for our circumstances, rather than taking responsibility for our own choices being the problem.
Let’s start with the reasons people want to lay blame on others. The first two reasons we’ll look at are fear and shame. To do that let’s take a look at the very first human sin, which is the place all humans get our inherited sin nature – Adam and Eve and the fall of man.
Blame shifting is the original response to the original sin. Let’s read Genesis 3:1-13, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like
God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. 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. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 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.”
So Eve blamed the Devil, and Adam blamed Eve … and God …. as
incredibly arrogant as that is! Once their eyes were opened from eating the fruit, Adam and Eve were afraid and felt shame, something they hadn’t felt previously. Laying blame on others is an attempt to make someone else the bad guy and make ourselves look innocent (or at least not so bad).
1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” That’s the place a Christian should start. If we’ve sinned, don’t let your first thought be “who can I blame for this?” Let your first thought be, “I need to repent and ask God for forgiveness.”
But what about the shame? How do we handle the shame for those things that are out there for everyone to see? Shame can make us play the blame game because it’s easier to be able to point the finger at someone else and blame them, especially if our sin is public knowledge.
To be quite honest, it’s easier to go down if there are other people taking the fall with you simply because not all of the focus is solely on you. We’d love to have someone else to totally lay the blame on so that we don’t look bad, especially as a Christian. But again, that’s not what we should do. Repent and ask God for forgiveness.
Reformation 21 says this about a Christian’s sin that’s publicly exposed: “Guard against the temptation to blame others for your own sin. As a Christian, you are not obligated to sin; and, when you do sin, it is a willful transgression against the Law of God. No one else made you sin. Now you must own it. You're not helping anything by scandalously blaming others, publicly exposing them, and ensuring they take a fall with you. If someone else was involved in your sin, there are appropriate means that God has appointed for dealing with them, and you are not part of it now. Repent! Begin working through a process of spiritual restoration. Trust the Lord and His church to rightly handle others.”
On another note, fear can be a reason for blaming others, even if what we did was not sinful. We can fear the earthly circumstances our legitimate mistakes can cause.
In that case, don’t play the blame game. Take responsibility for what you did, and then to deal with the fear and anxiety about the circumstances, turn to Scriptures like Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Right. Put on your big girl pants and then turn to the Lord for peace and comfort. Rose, there’s one more aspect to Adam’s sin to deal with. I want to quote something from Pastor Ben Reaoch, from a 2008 Desiring God article. Pastor Reaoch says, “The first man, caught in the first sin, turns to blame his wife. And he extends the blame to God as well! He implies that he would have remained innocent if God hadn’t put Eve in the garden with him. “
Pastor Reaoch makes a good point that blaming others for our sinful actions can sometimes imply that we wouldn’t have sinned if they hadn’t been with us.
This aspect of blaming someone else involves guilt-tripping another person, and if it’s habitual it can become abusive. If you find yourself saying to someone over and over, “I wouldn’t have acted that way if you weren’t always nagging me” or “If you didn’t always start in when I am dead tired, I wouldn’t lose my temper,” you need to stop blaming the other person and examine yourself.
Regardless of how someone acts, we always have the choice about how we react to them. The buck stops with us, not them. It’s our sin. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
Moving on in our reasons for blame shifting, we have the example of Moses, who seemed to have been struggling with the sins of anger and frustration over his circumstances which led to blaming others. Let’s read about Moses playing the blame game.
To give a little background, twice, Moses brought water from a rock while the Israelites were in the desert. The first time he was to strike the rock. The second time God said, ““Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle.”
But … Moses doesn’t listen. The Bible says, “Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.”
So, God lays the blame for Moses not being allowed to enter the
Promised Land squarely at Moses’ own feet. But when he’s about to send them into the land with Joshua as their leader, Moses tells the people that he has pleaded with the Lord to let him see the land, “But because of you, the Lord was angry with me and would not listen to me.” (Deut. 3:26)
That’s a total blame-shift! He is the one who struck the rock instead of commanding it!
It’s baseball season, so I’ll use this reference: “Step up to the plate!” I mean “Own your sin.” Let’s look at Sarai’s story; another total blame-shifter who (I think it’s safe to say) is frustrated and angry.
Sarai was Abraham’s wife, God promised them a child. But ten years passed and no child. Genesis 16:1-7 says, “Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now,
the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of
Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the LORD judge between you and me!” But Abram said to Sarai,
“Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.”
Sarai got the idea of giving her husband another wife, which was NOT God’s design for marriage (even back then) to get the child God promised but whom He hadn’t provided in Sarai’s timing. When things go south because of her sinful decision, a frustrated and angry Sarai blatantly blames Abraham. Proverbs 37:8 says, “Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.”
Like the example with Moses, Sarai never admits fault. Sarai’s either not seeing the truth, unwilling to face the truth, or just unwilling to take responsibility for the consequences and wants Abraham to take the blame. And he sort of turns the tables on her. He doesn’t say, “this was your idea, not mine!” But he tells her to take care of her situation herself. Hagar was her maid! She could have dismissed her and sent her away. Abraham is telling her to take care of her own mess.
Which is exactly what we should do. We have to take personal responsibility for our actions and choices: James 1:13-15 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” It’s our own lusts and desires that make us fall for the temptations. We can’t blame others.
Absolutely! Our next reason we tend to start blaming others is to get ourselves out of trouble. Aaron was the high priest when Moses and the Israelites were in the desert. He’s a blame-shifter trying to get himself out of trouble.
To give a little background in case you’re not familiar with the story, Moses had brought the Israelites into the desert after God rescued them from slavery in Egypt. His brother, Aaron, was the high priest.
Moses goes up the mountain to meet with God where he was getting the 10 Commandments and while he was up there, which was awhile, the people got impatient.
Scripture tells us, “When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” So, Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron.And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.”And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.
God saw what was happening and told Moses He would destroy them, but Moses interceded for the people and asked God not to destroy them for the sake of His name (meaning God’s name not Moses’). God doesn’t destroy them, and Moses goes down the mountain with the 10 Commandments in his hands. When he sees the golden calf and the people partying, he’s pretty angry.
And Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought such a great sin upon them?”And Aaron said, “Let not the anger of my lord burn hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil.For they said to me, ‘Make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’So I said to them, ‘Let any who have gold take it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.”
Fear of getting in trouble can cause us to do a lot of things we shouldn’t. Aaron knows what they’ve done is wrong, and then he plays a card common in the blame game … get the person you’re answering to on your side!
Right! If you didn’t catch it in the Scripture we just read, he basically says, come on, Moses, “You know these people … they’re set on evil.”
Aaron acts as if he was afraid of the group of people that he was supposed to be the spiritual leader of. Then he blatantly lies about how the whole thing transpired with making the golden calf, he lays the blame at the feet of the Israelites, doesn’t take responsibility for himself, and even says something that’s pretty nonsensical …. “I gathered up the gold that they were taking off and pitched it into the fire! And “wallah! Out came this golden calf”
Which we know he actually fashioned with a tool. And in addition, he built an altar in front of it. He never actually admits fault, just like some of the others we’ve looked at. Proverbs 12:22 says, “The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.”
Aaron did all of this to avoid bad consequences for his actions. The truth is, Moses had already interceded them. If not, they’d all be dead.
Let’s cover a few more reasons people blame-shift by taking a look at Israel’s first king, King Saul, who is another blame-shifter. Let’s read his history, starting with the prophet Samuel telling him about a mission he was about to be sent on.
This is from 1 Samuel 15:1-3, “And Samuel said to Saul, “The LORD sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the LORD.Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destructionall that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”
King Saul gathers the troops, sets up an ambush, and attacks the
Amalekites. He doesn’t kill all of them, something we know from later in Scripture, as well as the fact that the Bible goes on to say here in verses eight and nine that, “And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive and devoted to destruction all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them.All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction.”
And the Lord tells Samuel what’s happened, and the next morning
Samuel goes to meet Saul and finds out that he has gone to the town of
Carmel where he “set up a monument in his own honor,” and then he headed to Gilgal, probably to worship. When Samuel gets to him, Saul says, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.” But that’s a blatant lie, and Samuel confronts him about it, asking why he can hear the sounds of sheep and other animals, if they’ve actually followed the Lord’s instructions and destroyed everything.
This is where the blame-game starts. His answer is, “They (meaning the soldiers) have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the LORD your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction.”
There are several aspects of laying blame in that statement. First,
Saul blames the troops. When we blame others, we’re trying to make ourselves look good (or at least better) and others look bad. Or, we’re just trying to spread the blame around so less of the muck falls on us. And even worse, Saul was the leader, and he’s throwing those under him under the bus. That’s not just blame shifting, that’s terrible leadership. Second, he’s making excuses for his actions. He tried to say they “did it for God.”
So Samuel reiterates what God told him to do – devote everything to destruction – and still, Saul won’t admit wrongdoing. 1 Samuel 15:20-
21 says, “And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the LORD. I have gone on the mission on which the LORD sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the LORD your God in Gilgal.”
If we tend to be blame shifters, Saul give us something else to examine ourselves about – taking a good, hard look at the reality of the situation. We have to make sure we aren’t deceiving ourselves about the reality of the situation. Saul states two times that he has “obeyed the Lord’s command.” And then goes on to make statements that contradict that!
Lying to ourselves about what we’ve done and blaming others is the easy way out. Samuel tells King Sau, ““Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.” 1 Samuel 15:22-23
And there we find another reason people blame shift: arrogance. The ESV uses the word “presumption”, which means arrogance. We already saw that he built a monument to his own honor. Here, Samuel names his sin. Arrogance.
So Saul does the one things a lot of blame-shifters do when they’re backed into a corner: He admits he was wrong saying, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words,” but he doesn’t stop there. He goes on to say,“because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me that I may bow before the LORD.” (1 Samuel 15:24-25)
King Saul admits his sin but still blames it on others. He should have repented and asked forgiveness from God. And after Samuel refuses to go with him to worship before the Lord and also tells him God has rejected him as king, Saul goes further saying, “I have sinned; yet honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may bow before the LORD your God.”
King Saul showed again the underlying sin problem that caused him to blame shift and act this way – prideful arrogance. Arrogance or protecting your ego are common causes for blaming others. You’re too arrogant to accept anyone thinking anything bad about you or to sometimes even believe it yourself that you’ve done wrong. And King Saul basically was asking Samuel to make things look good for the people to hide his sin from them. In effect, he was asking Samuel to “cover for him” so no one would know.
There’s a great proverb to keep ourselves in check for this. We all know this one: Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
And that’s exactly what happened. The kingdom was ripped away from him. It’s not about how good you look to other human beings. If you’re always making blaming, making excuses, and wanting others to cover for you so no one finds out the truth, take a lesson from King Saul.
There are a couple more things to cover. As an article from Desiring God says about placing the blame on others, “Freudian psychology flooded our culture with the idea that every wrong action can be blamed on things that happened to you in early childhood, even before you were born. You don’t have to accept any responsibility; you are the victim.”
It’s true. Blaming someone or something else make us feel better about our circumstances. It lets us tell ourselves, “We’re not at fault. It’s someone else’s fault.” It’s playing the victim card … (McDonalds made me fat, I’m poor because of racism, I made bad choices because of something that happened in my childhood, my parents didn’t raise me right, etc., etc.)
Usually we know deep down that we could do something to help ourselves. But by blaming something or someone else, it gets us off the hook from trying to help ourselves. And sometimes, it comes with a sense of entitlement that we deserve help from others (that may or may not come), often without a valid reason for feeling entitled.
Exactly. Here’s another aspect to blaming that some people deal with: Do you find yourself trying to pinpoint a reason for something that happened even if it’s not gonna make any difference in the outcome of an event that’s already transpired? You might be a chronic blamer.
A chronic blamer might see himself in these examples I found that I’ll quote from Psychology Today :“You left the stove on too long and now your meal is burned. On your way out the door, your cat escaped outside, and now you will be late. While walking down the street, you slip on some fallen leaves.
When misfortunes like this occur to you, what’s your first thought? Do you immediately figure out who was at fault, other than you? Or you do resign yourself to accepting responsibility for such common mishaps that were under your control? Not everyone is equally likely to engage in the blame game, but there is little scientific research to advise us on who is most likely to do so.”
They go on to say, “We can, however, define a dimension of blame-acceptance by adopting a few simple principles: On the extreme Blame side of our scale would be people who can always find something else to blame: You could attribute the burned meal to your partner, who doesn’t help enough around the house, forcing you to multitask and forget the chicken simmering in the pan. You do not blame your cat for its misbehavior, but you might blame your neighbor who waved hello at just the wrong time. Slipping on the sidewalk as a result of your clumsiness? Of course not; people should sweep the leaves up off the ground before they become a hazard. At the other end of the spectrum are people who blame themselves for everything, even when they’ve had nothing to do with an unfortunate outcome. This isn’t just false modesty or fishing for reassurance; some people do believe that they cause every bad thing all or most of the time.”
If being obsessed with laying or finding blame is your default tendency, even to the point you’ll blame yourself if you can’t find an answer, then you may want to ask God to help you trust in
His sovereignty and to show you why you feel this need to lay blame
“somewhere” for everything that happens, even if it’s at your own feet. Job had no idea why bad things were happening to him. His friends tried to tell him it was his sin, his wife tells him to “curse God and die” and when God converses with Job, He doesn’t give Job an answer “why” either. What is the point? I’m going to quote Ligonier Ministries, “when we are befuddled and confused by things that we cannot understand in this world, we look not for specific answers always to specific questions, but we look to know God in His holiness, in His righteousness, in His justice, and in His mercy.”
People who study blame-shifters agree on one thing: People who play the blame game believing it will benefit them in the long run are mistaken.
From a worldly point of view, in fact, research shows that people who tend to look outside of themselves to place blame on others for their own mistakes tend to lose social status among their peers, have lower performance levels, and don’t learn as much when they run into obstacles in life.
And one more thing …. Don’t even think about being like the comedian, Flip Wilson who always said, “The Devil made me do it.” We can’t blame the Devil for our actions. Romans 5:12 tells us that sin entered the world through Adam. God placed the origin of human sin on Adam, not Satan. I’m going to quote bibletools.org here: “In Genesis 3:17, God identifies the trigger of Adam's sin as heeding the voice of his wife. In the same way, our sin may also begin with heeding the voice of another (Satan), but he is not the author of our sin, any more than Eve was the author of Adam's sin. Though Adam and Eve played the blame game, God did not accept their excuses. If we hold to the justification that Satan is the real cause of our sins, we are trying to dodge reality, just as they did.”
The bottom line is, “Are we always looking for a way of getting our own self out of trouble, out of looking bad in front of others, lashing out in blame because of anger or frustration, or blaming someone or something because we don’t like our circumstances? If so, we need to examine ourself and our motives.
Blaming is the easy way out of situations. It takes maturity to take responsibility for our own actions. But if wenever start, ywell never mature!
So let’s step up, take responsibility and stop blame-shifting. We are all responsible for our own choices and our own behavior. Ezekiel 18:20 says, “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.”
That’s all we have time for today! Don’t forget to check out our website proverbs910ministries.com, as well as our FB, MeWe and other social media pages.
Have a blessed day everybody!
 “A Pastoral Letter to Myself (In the Case That I Fall).” Reformation 21. Accessed July 1, 2021. https://www.reformation21.org/blogs/a-pastoral-letter-to-myself-in.php.
 Reaoch, Ben. “12 Sins We Blame on Others.” Desiring God, June 30, 2021. https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/12-sins-we-blame-on-others.
 “5 Reasons We Play the Blame Game.” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers. Accessed June 30, 2021. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201509/5-reasons-we-play-the-blame-game.
 Sproul, R C. “The Book of Job by R.C. Sproul.” Ligonier Ministries. Accessed June 30, 2021.
 “Blaming Others: 6 Reasons Why People Play the Blame Game.” Develop Good Habits, August 10, 2020. https://www.developgoodhabits.com/blaming-others/.
 What the Bible says about Blaming Satan for Our Sins. Accessed June 30, 2021. https://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Topical.show/RTD/cgg/ID/20979/Blaming-Satan-for-Our-Sins.htm.