Jesus required an impossible goal for those who desire to follow him, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Most of us, usually, agree with that as a goal, even as we realize our flaws. The key for all of us—do we yearn to grow into more righteousness, perfection, or Christlikeness? A friend recently reminded me of that requirement, and what can cause us to fall far short.
Imagine the Garden of Eden. Although naked, Adam and Eve felt no shame, no barriers between them. Trust overcame any vulnerability (Genesis 2:24-25). Regularly, as evening cooled the heat of the day, they would stroll with God. Intimacy with one another, with God (3:8). Idyllic.
Until one day God discovered they hid from him, and asked if they’d done the only act forbidden. Adam’s response? “Yeah, dad, we slipped. Forgive us, please?” Not quite. Blame. First to God himself, “that woman YOU gave me,” and then to Eve, “SHE gave me some fruit from the tree” (3:12). Eve did no better, also allocating blame, “the SERPENT deceived me, and I ate” (3:13). Intimacy shattered, between Adam and Eve, between Adam and Eve and God. Shattered by blame.
You know, I wonder, if they had sought out God and confessed and owned their actions, would the curse have been lighter? We have no way to know, now, but apply this to our relationships when we wound one another. If we take the initiative and confess it, if we own our acts, then healing is easier. More difficult, though, if we are confronted, and only then own it. Worst of it, we get confronted, and deny and blame, with no ownership. Consequently, no healing comes. We may paper it over, but the scars remain.
A vital key to spiritual growth comes when we own our mistakes, our failings, our flaws. When we don’t blame others for what we have chosen. We will speak the truth, and the truth will make us free (a loose paraphrase of John 8:32).
Kick Starting the Application
Begin by spending some time pondering James 5:16 “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” Think of some times relationships have been damaged when you chose blame in place of ownership. How could you have handled it differently?
Next, remember an occasion when you chose ownership over blame. How was it different? What allowed you to make this choice? Now, how can you incorporate this principle more deeply in your pursuit of Jesus?