Whose Fault Is It?
THE first man, Adam, started the trend. After he sinned he said to God: “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree and so I ate.” In effect, he was saying: “It is not my fault!” The first woman, Eve, did the same when she said: “The serpent—it deceived me and so I ate.”—Genesis 3:12, 13.
Thus the stage was set in the garden of Eden for humans’ refusing to accept responsibility for their own actions. Have you ever been guilty of this? When problems come up, do you quickly blame others? Or do you analyze the situation to see whose fault it really is? In daily life, it is so easy to fall into the trap of blaming others for our mistakes and to say, “It is not my fault!” Let us look at common situations and see what some people tend to do. More important, reflect on what you would do under the same circumstances.
“It’s not my fault—it’s the economy, crooked business people, the high cost of living,” some may say when they find themselves in deep financial trouble. But are these factors really to blame? Perhaps uncertain conditions led them into questionable or speculative business ventures. Sometimes greed overshadows objectivity, and people find themselves swimming in unknown waters, becoming easy prey for the sharks. They forget the adage, “If it looks too good to be true, it usually is.” They shop for advice that they want to hear, but when economic hardship raises its ugly head, they look for someone else to blame. This, unfortunately, at times occurs even in the Christian congregation.
Some have been caught up in unwise or even phony investment schemes, such as buying diamonds that did not exist, financing hit television programs that quickly fizzled, or supporting real-estate developments that went bankrupt. An inordinate desire for wealth may have blurred their memory of the Bible counsel: “Those who are determined to be rich fall into temptation and a snare . . . and have stabbed themselves all over with many pains.”—1 Timothy 6:9, 10.
Undisciplined spending can also lead to financial ruin. Some feel that they have to look like people in the latest fashion magazines, take expensive vacations, eat out at fancy restaurants, and buy the latest adult “toys”—recreation vehicles, boats, cameras, stereo equipment. Of course, in time some may be able to have these things through shrewd planning and saving. Yet those who are in a hurry to have them may find themselves heavily in debt. If they do, whose fault is it? Obviously they have ignored the sound advice of Proverbs 13:18: “The one neglecting discipline comes to poverty and dishonor.”
Disappointment With Children
“It is the elders’ fault that my children left the truth,” some parents may say. “They did not pay enough attention to my children.”
The elders do have the responsibility to shepherd and care for the flock, but what about the parents themselves? Are they exemplary in displaying the fruitage of God’s spirit in all their dealings? Was the family study of the Bible conducted with regularity? Did the parents show zeal in Jehovah’s service and help the children prepare for it? Were they careful about their children’s associates?
Similarly, it is easy for a parent to say regarding schoolwork: “It is the teachers’ fault that my son did not do well in school. They did not like my son. And that school has a very low scholastic rating anyway.” But did the parent communicate closely with the school? Was the parent interested in the child’s curriculum and studies? Was his homework scheduled, and was assistance offered when needed? Could the underlying problem be a matter of attitude or laziness on the part of the child or the parent?
Instead of parents’ blaming the school system, it is far more productive if they take positive action to make sure that their children have the right attitude and that they take advantage of the learning opportunities available to them at school.
Failure to Thrive Spiritually
Occasionally we hear someone say: “I would be spiritually stronger, but it’s not my fault that I’m not. The elders don’t pay enough attention to me. I don’t have any friends. Jehovah’s spirit is not on this congregation.” Meanwhile, others in the congregation have friends, are happy, and make fine spiritual progress; and the congregation is blessed with growth and spiritual prosperity. So why do some have problems?
Few people want to be close companions with those who display a negative and complaining spirit. A sharp, cutting tongue and constant complaining can be most discouraging. Not wanting to be dragged down spiritually, some may limit their social association with such persons. Taking this to be coolness on the part of the congregation, one may begin a migration, moving first to one congregation, then to another, and another. Like the migratory herds of Africa’s plains that are always looking for greener pastures, these “migratory” Christians are always looking for the right congregation. How much happier they would be if they would look, instead, at the good in other people and strive to manifest more fully the fruitage of God’s spirit in their own lives!—Galatians 5:22, 23.
Some do so by making a special effort to speak to a different person at each meeting at the Kingdom Hall and to commend him sincerely on a good point. It could be about his well-behaved children, regularity at Christian meetings, well-prepared comments in the Watchtower Study, hospitality for his opening up his home for a Congregation Book Study and meetings for field service, and so on. By making it your aim to peer beneath the veneer of imperfection, you will certainly discover noble qualities in your Christian brothers and sisters. This will endear you to them, and you will find that you have no shortage of loyal friends.
The Ultimate Excuse
“It is God’s will.” “Blame it on the Devil.” Probably the ultimate excuse is to blame either God or the Devil for our own failures. It is true that God or Satan may influence some events in our lives. However, some believe that practically everything, good or bad, in their life is the result of intervention by God or by Satan. It is as if nothing that happened to them was a consequence of their own actions. “If God wants me to have that new car, he will see to it that I get it.”
Such ones often live their lives recklessly, making financial and other decisions on the assumption that God will save them. If their imprudent actions result in some disaster, economic or otherwise, they blame the Devil. To do something rash without first ‘counting the cost’ and then to blame Satan for the failure, or worse yet, to expect Jehovah to intervene, would be not only presumptuous but also contrary to Scripture.—Luke 14:28, 29.
Satan attempted to get Jesus to think that way and not take responsibility for His actions. Regarding the second temptation, Matthew 4:5-7 reports: “The Devil took him along into the holy city, and he stationed him upon the battlement of the temple and said to him: ‘If you are a son of God, hurl yourself down; for it is written, “He will give his angels a charge concerning you, and they will carry you on their hands, that you may at no time strike your foot against a stone.”’” Jesus realized that he could not expect Jehovah to intervene if he were to take a clearly foolhardy, even suicidal, course. Hence, he replied: “It is written, ‘You must not put Jehovah your God to the test.’”
Those with the propensity for blaming the Devil or God for their own questionable actions have much in common with followers of astrology, who merely substitute the stars for God or the Devil. Thoroughly convinced that almost everything that happens is beyond their control, they overlook the simple principle stated at Galatians 6:7: “Whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap.”
Facing Up to Reality
No one will dispute that we are living in an imperfect world. The problems discussed here are real enough. People will take advantage of us financially. Some employers will be unfair. Acquaintances may influence our children wrongly. Some teachers and schools need improvement. Elders at times could be more loving and concerned. But we have to acknowledge the effect of imperfection and that, as the Bible points out, “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” So it is not realistic to expect that our pathway through life is going to be smooth all the time.—1 John 5:19.
In addition, we must recognize our own imperfections and limitations and realize that many times our problems are the result of our own folly. Paul admonished the Christians in Rome: “I tell everyone there among you not to think more of himself than it is necessary to think.” (Romans 12:3) That advice applies with equal force to us today. When something goes wrong in our lives, we will not immediately follow our ancestors Adam and Eve and say: “It is not my fault!” Instead, we will ask ourselves, ‘What could I have done differently to have avoided this unhappy outcome? Did I exercise good judgment in the matter and seek counsel from a wise source? Did I give the other party or parties involved the benefit of the doubt, imputing dignity to them?’
If we follow Christian principles and exercise sound judgment, we will have more friends and fewer problems. Many of the unnecessary rough spots in our daily lives will be smoothed out. We will find joy in our dealings with others and will not be plagued with the question: “Whose fault is it?”
[Pictures on page 28]
Parents can do much to help their children thrive spiritually