Blaming Words


There’s an entire genre within the entertainment industry known by this informal word. This is a category of story where you don’t know the culprit of the crime until it’s revealed at the end of the book, film, or television show. Many enjoy whodunnit mysteries because they invite the reader/watcher into the process of discovering who’s to blame.

Our society has a high view of justice, creating within us an overwhelming desire to assess blame for any and every situation. Let’s use sports as an example: because the stakes are high—at least as far as the competition demands a defined winner and loser—losing fans are always seeking someone to hold responsible. Disgruntled fan will blame referees, coaches, players, and owners for losses. They’ll even go as far to blame objects and concepts, whether facilities, turf, rules, and salary caps. There are entire television networks that exist solely to provide programing where pundits argue over who’s to blame in sports.

This article is a continuation on a conversation about biblical accountability. The concepts of blame and accountability are intertwined. Accountability is intended to prevent us from doing wrong and, if necessary, to understanding who’s a fault when something goes wrong.

In the Bible, we’re introduced to accountability and blame through the law. The first few books of the Old Testament contain broad collections of laws that God gave to the Israelites. The law covers topics from construction expectations to dietary demands and even to the composition of clothing material.

One of the consistent functions of the laws were to help God’s people to determine who was at fault for misdeeds. Thousands of years later, the need for law remains important. Law outlines what is considered wrong and discourages people from committing transgressions against others.

Yet our pursuit of justice can lead us down some confusing paths. The Scriptures constantly remind us that humans are an enigma. The same person who performs amazing feats is capable of breaking the law. We can consider Noah, the man God called to build an ark to carry on the existence of creation through the Flood. In Genesis 6:9 we read that, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.” Just a few chapters later, in Genesis 9, Noah goes on a drunken binge that brings great shame to his family.

Humans can be both blameless and full of blame. It reinforces our need for accountability. But too many of us prefer a more accommodating system for ourselves, essentially, “accountability for thee but not for me.”

Accountability is useless unless we are willing to submit to it ourselves.

We can’t let ourselves off the hook. A quest for justice should always begin with a long look in the mirror. There will be times when we want to blame others when it’s ourselves that are at fault. Jesus recognized this when he taught us to, “first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5).

We must be willing to surrender our anger and pride to consider the sin in our personal blamelessness before we can address issues with other.

Even though it’s among the toughest thing we can do, it’s the way of Jesus.

In the New Testament, in 2 Peter 3:13,14, we’re inspired to consider our role in blame.

“In keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.”