Victim or Victor

We had a Christian school at our Church for some thirteen years, peaking at about 90 students in K-9. What a blessing for our teachers to be able to base their lessons on the truths and principles of God’s Word rather than on the philosophies and traditions of our secular society. While most of our students came from pretty solid Christian homes, we still experienced behavioral problems with which we had to deal. As the pastor, I was the overseer for the school so ended up often having to help deal with discipline. It is amazing how seldom children, young people—or adults—are willing to face up to their own wrongdoing and accept responsibility.  It seemed to always be someone else’s fault—”They started it!”  “He hit me first!”  “She called me a bad name!”  etc, etc…  

     In our society today as a whole, many feel they are victims—of a dysfunctional home, of their heritage, of their circumstances.  Rather than facing responsibility, they blame their background. “My father was an alcoholic.” “My mother beat me.” “My sister was always the favorite in the family.” “Kids made fun of me.”  And on and on…
     We have a friend who is a jailer and tells us that the majority of people arrested and put in jail—or prison—claim they couldn’t help being what they are or doing what they did.  “If you knew my wife, you would understand why I beat her!”  “If you knew my family, you’d know why I am the way I am!”……
     Well, as King Solomon wrote in the Old Testament, “…there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9), for when we go all the way back to the beginning of creation (about 6,000 years), we discover that as soon as sin entered the world through the disobedience of the first couple, Adam and Eve, the “blame game” began. As God confronted Adam after they ate of the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:16,17), Adam’s response was: “The woman that You gave me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate” (Gen. 3:12).  So God turned to the woman, Eve, and said: “ ‘What is this you have done?’  And the woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate’” (Gen. 3:13,14).  Ever since then, man’s old sinful nature, inherited from Adam (Ro. 5:12, 19) does not want to admit to wrongdoing, but tries to pass the blame to someone or something else to avoid responsibility and accountability.
     While Moses was on Mt. Sinai receiving the “Law,” “The people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain and … assembled about Aaron, and said to him, ‘Come, make us a god who will go before us, as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ And Aaron said, to them, ‘Tear off the gold rings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.’ …and he took this from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, and made it into a molten calf; and they said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt (Ex. 32:1-4).  “And it came about, as soon as Moses came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing; and Moses’ anger burned and he threw the tablets from his hands and shattered them at the foot of the mountain. And he took the calf which they had made and burned it with fire, and ground it to powder, and scattered it over the surface of the water, and made the sons of Israel drink it.” Then Moses said to Aaron (his brother), ‘What did this people do to you, that you have brought such great sin upon them?’ And Aaron said, ‘Do not let the anger of my lord burn; you know the people yourself, that they are prone to evil. For they said to me, “Make a god for us who will go before us…’” (vv 19-23).   Aaron was left in charge in Moses absence and was the one responsible for the golden calf, not the people (although they too were guilty). But Aaron put the blame on the people: “You know, Moses, how they are prone to evil!”
     When King Saul was commanded by God to “strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey” (I Sam. 15:3), he only partially obeyed. He “spared king Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings , the lambs, and all that was good…” (v. 9).  When the prophet/judge/priest Samuel arrived, “Saul said to him, ‘Blessed are you of the LORD! I have carried out the command of the LORD.’ But Samuel said, ‘What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?’ And Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen, to sacrifice to the LORD your God, but the rest we have utterly destroyed.’” (vv. 13-15).  Samuel asked Saul, “ ‘Why did you not obey the voice of the LORD, but rushed upon the spoil and did what was evil in the sight of the LORD?’ Then Saul said to Samuel, ‘I did obey the voice of the LORD, and went on the mission which the LORD sent me, and have brought back Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took some of the spoil…to sacrifice to the LORD your God at Gilgal.’  And Samuel said, ‘Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as the iniquity of idolatry…’” (vv. 19-23).  King Saul repeatedly tried to place the blame upon the people for his disobedience . (NOTE: Wicked Haman who got King Ahasuerus to make a decree to kill all the Jews was an Agagite!… Est. 3:1.) 
     Well things haven’t changed. Our sinful flesh still won’t accept responsibility and attempts to pass the blame for sinful behavior, saying: “I’m a victim—of my circumstances, by upbringing, etc.  No one can use that excuse for we are individually accountable for our own behavior and need to face our responsibility for wrong doing. And especially as Christians, we cannot say “The devil made me do it,” or “That’s just how I am.” We happen to be new creations in Christ (II Cor. 5:17) with a new nature that cannot sin (I Jn. 3:9). Christ now lives in us through the Holy Spirit (Gal. 2:20), and “…in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us” (Ro. 8:37). “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 15:57).  We are not victims but victors. For we can all, as believers, say: “I can do all things through Him (Christ) who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).
     If you are a believer, and find yourself struggling under difficult circumstances, “What in the world are you doing under there?”
                                                        Forever His,
                                                            Pastor Dave

About Pastor Dave

Until my retirement 2 years ago, I pastored an independent Bible church in Northwest Montana for nearly 38 years. During that time I also helped establish a Christian school, and a Bible Camp. I am married and have children and grandchildren. The Wisdom of the Week devotional is an outgrowth of my desire to share what God is doing in my life and in our world, and to challenge you to be a part.
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