On our drive to D.C. yesterday (heading for some grandparent duty) we were talking about how we blame others (for problems we caused) to make ourselves feel better. It’s a natural function of how we deal with our insecurities. Adam blamed Eve and then God. We step on others to make ourselves feel taller. We point out the flaws of others to mask our own – often very similar -flaws.
We also blame God. God asks Job “Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?” (Job 40:8 ESV) when I read those questions this morning I paused. It struck home. (Side note, this is what I love about the Bible, it speaks to my heart.)
The operative phrase, I think, is “that you may be in the right.” God pointed to Job’s desire to be right. To think well (or at least better) of himself.
(Yeah, I’m guilty as charged.)
Near the beginning of the practical section of Romans, Paul warns us not to think more highly of ourselves than we should. A sure sign of thinking too highly of myself is blaming others. When I blame, I look down. C. S. Lewis rightly pointed out that it is hard to see God when you’re looking down on another person.
To combat this attitude, I’ve found it helpful to be intentional about praying for that person I tend to look down on, complain about, or blame. I’ve also found it helpful to be thankful for them, pausing and thanking God for them is a good thing as it makes me look up at them.
Remember, we not be perfect on this side of heaven. John Owen, once vice-chancellor of Oxford university and great Puritan thinker put it this way: “To mortify a sin is not utterly to kill, root it out, and destroy it, that it should have no more hold at all nor residence in our hearts. It is true this is that which is aimed at; but this is not in this life to be accomplished.” We must be constant in our battle with sin. But this battle will continue. The key is to stay in the fight and abide in Christ who is our strength for the fight.
Part of the fight is to be mindful of attitudes that lead us to temptation and then to sin. As we are mindful, we can turn our attention to God and His ways, in this, we may answer temptation with discipline. In doing so, we make some progress in our battle with sin which is too often us stepping on another to lift ourselves up.