It's all your fault!

"It's all your fault!" Those were the harsh words a father spat into my face.

It was during my first pastoral assignment while I was youth pastoring a vibrant group of teenagers. The dad who approached me was an inconsistent and uninvolved attender at church. He had a daughter that was much the same. As she grew into her later teens, she became increasingly disinterested in church and began to run with the wrong people. Finally, she was exposed and he was not pleased.

He cornered me one Wednesday night and asked to speak with me. We'd hardly spoken before, and since he looked distressed, I slipped out of the youth hall so we could talk in private. That's when he spat those ugly words of accusation. He felt it was my fault, since I was her youth pastor, that she had turned away from God. He said I didn't care about her and that the reason for her wayward life laid squarely on my shoulders.

Being young in ministry, his words cut deep - at first. But as I shared this incident with other leaders and prayed about it, God quickly helped me realize the truth: People are responsible for their own choices, especially when they know the truth as she did. If there was any outside influence to blame, the father should have looked at the man in the mirror and his own example.

I know this father was hurting. But he did what so many of us do all the time; we blame others, or even God, for the consequences of our or others decisions. Solomon said it like this:

People ruin their lives by their own foolishness
and then are angry at the lord.
— Proverbs 19:3

I've talked with so many church attenders who ignored God's word says and then wondered why they suffered the consequences of their decisions. They would cry that God had abandoned them or get angry that God won't help them out of the mess they'd created. And there are many that walk away from the faith who look at God and say, "It's all your fault!"

"The fear of Lord" means many things. One of those is realizing that, if we decide to disobey our loving Heavenly Father and ignore the wisdom of His word that there are direct consequences that we am responsible for. God is a gentleman. He will not force us to obey. He does not intervene where we do not want Him. And He does not rescue you or I from the consequences of our choices. What we should "fear" are the choices we make that pushes God's involvement and blessings away from our lives.

Not everything that goes wrong in life is a direct result of bad choices or sin. In fact, many difficulties and hardships are just life itself. But when we do "reap" the consequences of our sin we must look at the person in the mirror and say, "It's all your fault!".

Oh most merciful Father, I submit my will and way to you today. Jesus, help me to live after the example you show me in your word. Holy Spirit, lead me and convict me to change when I start to stray. God, may I live in humble obedience to you today. Amen

Read Proverbs 19

Mark Canfield