Be a Man—Shoulder the Responsibility
“A POOR writer blames his pen.” That adage points out the common human failing of wanting to shirk responsibility when it comes to shouldering blame. In this respect every one of us, whether man, woman or child, should strive to be manly, to “carry on as men.” While friends can help us bear our burdens in times of distress, when it comes to responsibility or blame, then “each one [must] carry his own load of responsibility.”—1 Cor. 16:13; Gal. 6:2, 5.
Often our attempts to get out from under the blame make about as much sense as did Aaron’s on a certain occasion, betraying befuddled thinking. While Moses was up in the mountain for forty days the people grew impatient and returned to their idolatrous Egyptian ways. Bringing their jewelry to Aaron, they asked him to make them an idol. The record expressly states that then Aaron “took the gold from their hands, and he formed it with a graving tool and proceeded to make it into a molten statue of a calf.”—Ex. 32:4.
When Moses returned from the mountain and saw what had been done and in righteous indignation asked Aaron about it, did Aaron accept his responsibility in the matter? He did not. He was trying to get out from blame when he said to Moses: “I proceeded to throw [the gold the people gave me] into the fire and this calf came on out,” apparently by itself he would have Moses believe! Could anything be more preposterous? Yes, often our attempts to excuse or justify ourselves make about as much sense as that!—Ex. 32:22, 24.
While our trying to avoid blame may be due to befuddled thinking, when we try to shift the blame upon others, more likely than not there is something wrong with our hearts, revealing pride, dishonesty and selfishness. In doing so we are but following the bent we inherited from our first parents. Adam, instead of manfully owning up to having disobeyed by eating of the forbidden fruit and shouldering the blame, justified himself by blaming others: “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree and so I ate it.” Yes, ‘why blame me? If you had not given me that woman and if she had not handed me the fruit, why, I would never have eaten of it!’ And Eve followed Adam’s example. Instead of shouldering her responsibility, she shifted it: “The serpent deceived me and so I ate.” By their shifting the blame Adam and Eve showed that they were not repentant and so were undeserving of any mercy being extended to them.—Gen. 3:12, 13.
King Saul showed the same bad heart condition on at least two occasions. When censured by Samuel for presumptuously offering a certain sacrifice, Saul gave excuses: “I saw that the people had been dispersed from me, and you—you did not come within the appointed days, and the Philistines were being collected together at Michmash . . . So I compelled myself and went offering up the burnt sacrifice.” He had three excuses, but they carried no weight with Jehovah.—1 Sam. 13:11-13.
King Saul manifested the same heart condition on the occasion of his being commanded to wipe out the Amalekites, sparing neither man nor beast. When Samuel pointed out to Saul that he had failed to carry out God’s command, Saul replied: “The people had compassion upon the best of the flock,” “the people went taking from the spoil,” he even insisting, “I have obeyed the voice of Jehovah.” When reminded that “to obey is better than a sacrifice,” he at last admits, “I have overstepped the order of Jehovah,” but still blames the people, adding, “because I feared the people and so obeyed their voice.” However, Saul also had failed to devote King Agag to destruction and for that he certainly could not blame the people! Saul’s bad end is a warning to all who make a practice of refusing to accept the blame, of shifting it upon others.—1 Sam. 15:13-33.
How different the course of King David and the apostle Peter! They also, at times, made serious mistakes, but they accepted the responsibility for them. David did not make excuses or blame others when Jehovah’s anger came against him for having numbered the people capable of bearing arms: “Was it not I that said to make a numbering of the people, and is it not I that have sinned and have unquestionably done bad? As for these sheep, what have they done? O Jehovah my God, let your hand, please, come to be upon me and upon my father’s house, but not upon your people, for a scourge.”—1 Chron. 21:17.
Likewise when David transgressed in the matter of Uriah’s wife, he blamed neither Bath-sheba nor the circumstances but humbly confessed: “I have sinned against Jehovah.” Psalm 51 reveals the sincerity of David’s repentance, and what comfort that psalm has given ever since to servants of God overtaken by a serious transgression! That David, unlike Adam, did not blame the woman can be seen from the fact that he chose her son Solomon, of all the sons he had, to be his successor on the throne of Jehovah.—2 Sam. 11:4; 12:13; 1 Ki. 1:17.
The apostle Peter manifested a like right heart condition. When overtaken in his denial of his Master, did he try to justify himself or to blame others? No, but he humbly and contritely “went outside and wept bitterly.”—Luke 22:62.
If, like Aaron, we have a weakness along this line, let us be on guard and strive to overcome it lest we get to be like Adam, Eve and King Saul. Remember, trying to shift the blame upon circumstances or upon others is an indication of some form of selfishness, moral weakness, pride or dishonesty. If we guard our hearts we can please God in spite of our weaknesses: “He that is covering over his transgressions will not succeed, but he that is confessing and leaving them will be shown mercy.” So be a man! Be like David, like Peter—shoulder the responsibility!—Prov. 28:13.