By Roger D. Campbell
See if any of this sounds familiar: the prime minister or president blames the legislature and the legislature blames the top ruling figure in the country. The national government blames the state/provincial governments and the state/provincial government blame the national government. The coach blames the players and the players blame the coach. The teacher blames the parents and the parents blame the teacher. The husband blames the wife and the wife blames the husband. The overseers blame the congregation and the congregation blames the overseers.
When we say “pointing fingers,” we refer to placing the blame for something on someone else. If a blatant mistake occurs, some activity does not go well, or if something is left undone that should have been done, people often begin pointing fingers.
Finger-pointing is not something that is limited to one gender, one culture, one financial class of people, or those from one level of educational training. It something that folks from all walks of life do, and it knows no geographic boundaries.
Finger-pointing has been around since the population of the earth was only two people! After Eve and Adam violated God’s instructions by eating fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they began making excuses. And in this case, their excuses involved pointing fingers at someone else, as if blaming someone else for their misdeed somehow would erase the reality of their own sinful conduct.
After the transgressions took place in the Garden of Eden, God asked Adam, “Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” (Genesis 3:11). What was Adam’s response? “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate” (3:12). Adam admitted that he ate the fruit, but, at least in part, he was pointing a finger at someone else. He pointed a finger at Eve, saying she gave him the fruit. And, his words also had “the ring” of blaming God … for giving him the women … who gave him the fruit.
Well, what about Eve? She, too, did some finger-pointing. When Jehovah asked her, “What is this you have done” (3:13), she admitted that she had, in fact, eaten the fruit, but her complete statement was, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (3:13). Instead of taking full responsibility for her failure, she pointed a finger at the serpent.
In the next book of the Bible, we again read of a person who sinned against God, but rather than “man up” and show remorse for his evildoing, he tried to place the blame on someone else. We are talking about Aaron, the first high priest of Israel and older brother of Moses. What sin did Aaron commit? He led the Israelites in building and worshipping a golden calf. Moses’ question to his elder brother was, “What did this people do to you that you have brought so great a sin upon them?” (Exodus 32:21). Aaron’s wimpy, finger-pointing answer was, “You know the people, that they are set on evil. For they said to me, ‘Make us gods that shall go before us … And I said to them, “Whoever has any gold, let them break it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I cast it into the fire, and this calf came out” (Exodus 32:22-24). At whom did Aaron point a finger? At “the people.” Aaron gave a cowardly, non-sensical, blame-others response. God’s people deserve better leadership than that!
In contrast to the finger-pointers in the world, when King David messed up by committing adultery and other evil deeds, rather than blame someone else, he “told it like it was.” With no stipulations or attempt to minimize his guilt, David declared, “I have sinned against the LORD” (2 Samuel 12:13). His sin was ugly, but his spirit of repentance and taking responsibility for his grievous error was beautiful.
The Bible says, “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). It also is written that the God of judgment “will render to each one according to his deeds” (Romans 2:6). When we stand before the judgment seat of the risen Son of God, pointing a finger at others will not remove the guilt of any transgressions that we have committed.
If a sin was committed, but we had no involvement in it, we are not responsible for it. On the other hand, if we broke God’s law or failed in the some manner when others were counting on us, let us be mature enough to admit our fault, take responsibility for our action, and strive to do better in the future.