March 24, 1992
Months ago a humorous article from the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel caught my eye. In it, Ray Recchi makes long comments about the state of the nation and the main reason for it. He concludes that “a lot of Americans are just plain stupid . . . .”
Recchi supports his charge with statistics and offers pertinent questions about the foolish things that people do and say — but the label “stupid” makes me mad. If most people who read the article are like me, they immediately assumed it was about a whole lot of other people, not them.
Counselors call this transference or some other long word that simply mean blame-shifting. We all do it. It is a defense mechanism. I use it too. Whenever someone’s accusations are hitting too close to home, if I can find someone else it fits better, then the pressure is off me. Unfortunately, the Bible doesn’t let me get away with it.
God’s Word certainly doesn’t gloss over our humanness. People shifted the blame and pointed fingers just as much then as we do now. Jesus had to command us not to judge others. It is so easy to accuse someone else of having a “splinter in their eye” when we have a log in our own (Matthew 7). However, Recchi’s article has another Scriptural parallel. When God told Israel the reason for the mess they were in, He basically said, “a lot of my people are just plain sinful.” Of course, true to human nature, they basically said, “Who? Me?” They were not prepared to accept the label either.
Again, we haven’t changed much. We resent being called sinners and will adamantly deny sin is present in our lives. We will rationalize and even re-define it so we can escape the label. Unfortunately, both Recchi and God can back up their label with statistical proof.
From one end of the Bible to the other, there is record of the sinful deeds that all people commit. Adam and Eve disobeyed the only command God gave them. Cain murdered his brother out of jealousy. Joseph’s brothers hated him and sold him into slavery. David committed adultery and murdered the woman’s husband. Solomon, wise as he was, multiplied for himself gold, horses, and wives and fell to idol worship at the end of his life. The kings of Israel built shrines for pagan deities. The people of God killed the prophets He sent and crucified His Son. The early church also struggled with sin in its midst. The apostle Paul wrote that everyone can see the glory of God in creation and are aware there is a God that deserves our worship — yet many are not thankful and turn from Him to make and worship idols.
Jesus jumped with both feet on the hypocritical religious leaders of His day. He called them “whitewashed tombs which appear beautiful outwardly but inside are full of dead bones and all uncleanness.”
Certainly, from pagan to priest, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” The sin might be overt things like murder, adultery, stealing and lying or more hidden things like cursing God in our heart and doing our own thing, independent of His will. Refusing to thank God for His abundant care is just as much as sin as lust, hate and jealousy.
Our problem is admitting it. We hate the label, pin it on someone else who seems worse, rather than accept what the evidence suggests. We don’t want to consider the consequences: “the wages of sin is death . . . .”
Ricchi’s article failed to offer a solution for stupidity, however the Bible does offer a remedy for sin. When we are willing to admit our need, we can understand, want, and accept the solution, “. . . the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”