Since the Fall, we have struggled not only with the content of our thoughts but the process as well. Yes, even the very way we size up situations and apply knowledge and experience to them is tainted by sin. In other words, we are constantly plagued by fallacies and cognitive distortions. So in our series on sound mind theology, we’ve touched on three interrelated distortions — minimizing, maximizing, and disqualifying. We discussed the fallacies of fairness and control. Last week, we got personal with two cognitive distortions, labelling and personalization. Today, we’ll finish up the series with blaming.
Blaming, as a cognitive distortion, is when we assign guilt or responsibility to someone else for our emotional responses. “I don’t want to have lunch with her. She makes me feel guilty about what I eat.” “He makes me so angry with his dumb comments.” Blaming may make us feel better temporarily. We may even feel like we’re protecting ourselves by avoiding a difficult situation.
The Roots of Blaming
Human beings have been blaming each other and other things since the very beginning. Adam blamed Eve. Eve blamed the serpent. They both blamed God. And that shifting was passed down to their sons. Cain’s jealousy of his brother, Abel, resulted in murder. What was the root of the jealousy? Blaming someone else rather than admitting his own failure to be obedient. All of these examples from the early chapters of Genesis expose the basis of blaming. We don’t want to admit responsibility for our shortcomings, our failures, our sins.
The Spiritual Side of Blaming
Blaming God puts us in an antagonistic relationship with Him. We resent His correction. We mistrust Him. We ascribe questionable motives to God’s actions. (This is exactly what happened in the Garden.) These attitudes are wholly ungodly and require repentance.
He is wise in heart and mighty in strength —who has hardened himself against him, and succeeded? Job 9:4
The writer of Hebrews calls out the deceitfulness of sin.
[B]ut exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:13
From our examples above, quality of lunch and comments aside, we have the power to determine how we respond. It isn’t “she makes me feel guilty.” It’s I (choose to) feel guilty.” And it’s actually not “he makes me angry.” It’s “I get angry.”
If we get in the habit of blaming others, we don’t see where we are wrong. We may ignore the Holy Spirit’s efforts to correct us. If it persists, we can grow hard-hearted toward God.
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Proverbs 28:13
As for me, I said, “O LORD, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you!” Psalm 41:4
Furthermore, if we see someone else as the cause of our distress, on whatever level, we cannot, will not love them the way God has called us to love others.
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 1 Peter 1:22
All of the fallacies and cognitive distortions we’ve looked at prevent us from living a life of obedience, service, and love. But they are also deeply ingrained in us. It takes humility to ask God to show them to you and diligence to reshape them. But we have a great mission ahead of us, and our minds need to be fully engaged.
Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:13