He crowns the humble with salvation. [Psalm 149:4]
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that when we go to Confession in order to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, our confession must be humble. The Catechism then goes on to teach that in order to be truly humble when we confess our sins, we have to understand that it was our own fault that we have sinned, not the fault of someone else.
A boy who enters the confessional and says, “I stole candy from the store because my friends put pressure on me to do so” is not being very humble in his confession, is he? He’s admitting that he stole candy, but he’s really blaming his friends for his wrongdoing. If his friends had not put pressure on him, he would not have stolen the candy. Therefore, the fault really lies with his friends, not with himself.
Playing The Blame Game with God during Confession isn’t going to work. Our confession is humble when we accuse ourselves for making wrong choices and sinning against God, not accusing others or the circumstances which we believe drove us to it.
We are living in a time when people refuse to accept personal responsibility for their sins and wrongdoing. If they do wrong, it’s someone else’s fault, not theirs.
· I hate people because others have hated me.
· I lie because people just can’t handle the truth anymore.
· I do not love because love was never shown to me.
· I get drunk every night because of all the stress people are bringing upon me.
· I shoplift because Dad doesn’t give me a big enough allowance.
· I refuse to take correction from those in authority because when I was little, I had an overbearing mother and father.
· I’m selfish and don’t go out of my way because nobody ever went out of their way for me.
Do you see the subtle way we can play The Blame Game when it comes to our own sin and wrongdoing? Because of the way people may have treated us in the past, we hate. It’s not our fault that we hate, it’s the fault of all those in the past who drove us to such a hardness of heart.
We tell lies, not because we have sinned against God, but because people have created an environment in which we feel we have no other choice but to lie. Therefore, the fault lies with those who have supposedly created that environment, not with us.
If we had been the recipient of love when we were younger, we would know how to love today as adults. Therefore, if we do not love, it is not our fault. We cannot be expected to give to others what we ourselves never received. The fault does not lie with us; it lies with every person who failed to show us love in our past.
Because of the stress that people are putting on us, we get drunk every night in order to cope with this. If we cannot remain sober, the fault is not ours. Rather, the fault lies with those stressors in our lives who are driving us to drink heavily.
Because Dad doesn’t give me a big enough allowance, he has placed me in the compromising position of being forced to steal. It’s not my fault that I steal, it’s Dad’s fault; he’s cheap.
Because my parents were hard and overbearing when I was young, I refuse to accept any type of correction from anyone or to yield to any authority whatsoever. It’s not my fault. If I had been raised by gentle, patient, and loving parents, I would not be like I am today. The blame lies with my parents, not with me.
Because people have mistreated me all of my life, I mistreat others. It’s not my fault that my heart has become so calloused and hard. Life did this to me. Mankind did this to me.
This kind of attitude is offensive to God – blaming others and what they have done - for the sins we have committed against Him.
When God confronted Adam and Eve after they sinned against Him in the Garden of Eden, they both blamed someone else for their sin. The only one who didn’t try to make excuses for his sin was the devil! When God confronted Eve, she did it “because the serpent tricked her.” It was really the serpent’s fault that she had disobeyed God, not her own fault. When Adam was confronted, he took his defense one step further by subtly hinting that it was both God’s and Eve’s fault for his wrongdoing. Listen to Adam’s subtle accusations when God put him on the stand in order to interrogate him: “The woman You put here with me -- she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” [Genesis 3:12].
Not only did Adam blame Eve, but he subtly accused God by hinting to Him that perhaps none of this unpleasantness would have transpired if God had simply exercised a little more discretion when choosing a suitable helper for him and then placing that “helper” in Eden. If God would have thought twice before doing this, perhaps the forbidden fruit would still be hanging from the tree instead of digesting in Adam’s stomach.
After God patiently listened to the feeble defense of both Adam and Eve, as they “confessed” what they had done, it was time to pass sentence. All three – the man, the woman, and the serpent – were given separate punishments because all were guilty and responsible for their sin in the sight of God. The Blame Game simply doesn’t work with God. Each man is responsible for his or her own actions in His sight. While it is true that some may tempt us to sin, in the end, the decision to yield to that sin is ours, and ours alone.
The Blame Game is something that has been going on since mankind was first created, and it still takes place today. The most humorous confession of sin that I’ve ever heard in my entire life actually spilled off the lips of Aaron, Israel’s first High Priest.
In the Book of Exodus, God summoned Moses to the top of Mount Sinai, saying, “Come up to Me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and commands I have written for Israel’s instruction.” [Ex 24:12.]. Moses obeyed the Lord and went up the mountain, where he stayed for forty days and forty nights. When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from Mount Sinai, they grew restless. Gathering around Aaron, they said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” [Ex 32:1].
Instead of counseling the people to be patient and to have faith in the God who delivered them from Egypt by His mighty hand, Aaron capitulated to the pressure being put on him by the faithless people of Israel. He then instructed the people to take off all of their gold jewelry and to bring it to him. The people brought the jewelry to Aaron, who took it and melted it down. He then fashioned the gold into an idol shaped like a calf. Not only this, but Aaron then built an altar in front of the golden calf and announced that the next day there would be a glorious festival to Israel’s new god. The next day, the people of Israel rose early in order to sacrifice to their new god and to celebrate. It was at this moment when Moses came down from Mount Sinai. When Moses approached the camp, carrying the tablets given to him by God, he saw the calf, the dancing, and the partying, and he became exceedingly grieved and angry. In righteous indignation, he confronted Aaron and demanded to know how he could have led the people of Israel into such great sin? Aaron’s “confession” was as follows: “Do not be angry with me, Moses. You know how prone these people are to evil. They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’ They gave me their jewelry, I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!” [Ex 32:22-24]. In other words, the wicked people drove poor, pious Aaron to instruct them to take off their jewelry and hand it over to him. Innocently, he cast the gold jewelry into the fire, and lo and behold…..a golden idol simply materialized on its own! Aaron didn’t make the idol; it simply surfaced on its own.
When examining our lives before God in order to see if they are lining up with His Truth, we need to be honest about those areas that need to be corrected. Making excuses for our sin and leaning on feeble rationalizations is just not going to cut it with God. When I die and stand before Christ to be judged for the life that I lived on earth, the subject in that day will not be my mother and father, my neighbors, the members of my church, my co-workers, fellow students, husband, children, or society as a whole. The subject in that day will be me and my personal obedience to what Christ has commanded me in His Word.
Noah and his tiny household obeyed God and were declared righteous in their generation even though everyone else living on earth at that time was wicked and eventually destroyed by God. We cannot blame our situations, circumstances, or other people for wrongdoing. We cannot use the evil and wickedness in our society as an excuse for our own disobedience and unfaithfulness to God. Even if all else choose to disobey, God still expects us to obey, and it is for this that Noah was commended by God!
All of us have faults. Perhaps some of us are even indulging in secret sins that no one knows about except us and God. When we look at the lives we are living beneath the glaring Word of God, and we see those areas in which we are falling short, how do we respond? Do we immediately acknowledge our need to confess and repent, or do we simply make excuses in order to justify our sin?
It is the man who humbles himself before God and takes ownership of his sin who will be justified in the courts of Heaven, not those who blame others and simply make excuses for what they have done.
Let us humble ourselves before God, brothers and sisters, that He may lift us up in due time.
To settle for anything less than this is to make a “confession” that is utterly incomplete.
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