September 25, 1991
Our oldest son used to have a black T-shirt with “SAN ANDREAS EARTHQUAKE COMPANY” written on the front and “IT’S NOT MY FAULT” written on the back. When my husband tells a story about people who refuse to take responsibility for work that are clearly theirs, we think of that shirt. The explanation for not getting the job done is almost always “It’s not my fault.”
Everyone protests, “It’s not my fault...” now and then. And many times it isn’t their fault. However, when it is, the results of refusing to accept responsibility can be just as disastrous as an earthquake.
Consider Adam and Eve when confronted in the garden. God, perhaps with the apple core or fruit pit in His hand says to Adam, “I thought I told you not to eat from that tree...” and Adam comes back with, “The woman You gave me, she gave me the fruit from the tree... it’s not my fault, check out Eve...” (Reread Genesis 3, he actually did say that!)
So God turns to Eve and asks about her disobedience to His command. She says, “The serpent deceived me, so it’s not my fault, check out that snake...”
God doesn’t bother to ask the serpent about his responsibility. He knows this snake is an embodiment of Satan. This critter is far from having any interest in God’s commands and has no intention of taking responsibility for leading Eve into sin. So instead of waiting for the snake’s “It’s not my fault,” the Lord curses him to a lifetime of crawling in the dust.
Then God promises Satan there would be: “enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel,” a prophecy referring to Jesus Christ who would eventually gain victory over this beguiling deceiver.
After that, God tells the two buck-passers the consequences of their irresponsible behavior. Women would face multiplied sorrow as mothers (all mothers can relate to that) and there would be conflict in marriage relationships (all marrieds can relate to that). The man is told that making a living would be tough because the earth was now cursed as a result of this sin. Adam would battle thorns and thistles from then on “because he heeded the voice of his wife...” Furthermore, spiritual (and eventually, physical) death would come upon them as they are now separated from God and banished from access to the Tree of Life.
Adam was responsible to make right decisions, not be governed by his wife’s wrong suggestion. Eve was responsible to evaluate what even snakes say to her and determine if her decision would fit into God’s will. Yet both of them blamed someone else for their choices.
Being responsible for what we do is not always easy. When someone gives me wrong directions, I want to blame them that I got lost. When someone hurts me, I want to blame them for my angry reaction. If I goof up, I too easily look for a scapegoat, not wanting to bear the burden of my own mistakes. However, my husband says workers who make good impressions on a construction site are those who go to a superior and say, “I did not get the job done properly but am willing to try again... what kind of help can I get?”
Did Adam ever say, “I disobeyed You God... I not only failed to stop my wife from sin but entered into it with her... I am guilty, help me do the right thing”? Or did Eve say, “I made a horrible mistake, I wanted something that You told me I should not have... please forgive me, change my wants...”? We don’t know for sure but the Bible does tell us an amazing thing: when we say, “It is my fault...please help me...” God does a wonderful thing: He forgives our mistakes and removes our guilt, producing freedom and new life. Taking responsibility is worth it.