Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life . . . Acts 13:46
The addict, in his mess, will often blame everyone but himself for that mess. Because it’s too painful to admit the truth, he clings to the lie that his disaster is the result of a conspiracy against him. He’ll blame his nagging wife for his anger and drug use. He’ll blame his DUI charge on the police who have a personal vendetta against him. He’ll blame an inadequate lawyer for his jail sentence. When he gets out and relapses, he’ll blame those who refused to trust him again.
I’ve got to admit, in my own disaster, this kind of thinking was attractive. When my name was in the paper for my addiction, I even had friends help me distribute blame. That’s terrible. How judgmental. They didn’t need to print that. For a moment, it was tempting to relieve my own guilt by blaming the paper. By that time though, I’d come far enough that I was able to admit the truth. The newspaper didn’t do this to me. I did this. This mess is mine alone. I judged myself.
This is similar to what Paul said to the Jewish religious elite who rejected Christ in today’s passage. In the story, Paul and Barnabas preached the gospel in Antioch, where much of the city came out to hear them. This enraged those who didn’t follow Christ. In their jealously, they reviled Paul, speaking evil of him. In response, Paul chastised them, insisting that in rejecting Jesus, they’d judged themselves. They’d lost out on life, joy, and peace, and it was no one’s fault but their own.
We often need to hear this. When we’re miserable, we frequently blame others for that misery. The problem of course, is that our joy, meaning, and life cannot come from anyone else. It must come from our own personal relationship with the father because that’s how he made us. When we rely on others for our joy, we’ll always end up disappointed. Then, we’ll blame those around us, trying desperately to change them. But we can’t change others. We can only change ourselves.
Blaming others may make us feel better momentarily, but it fixes nothing. If we desire to know true life, joy, and peace, we must realize that those things are our responsibility and that we can only find them in an authentic relationship with the father.