Everyone loves a gift, but it’s hard to accept responsibility.
That’s because we’re most often asked to take responsibility when something has gone wrong on our watch.
We may be clearly to blame, yet our gut reaction is to insist that it really isn’t our fault. It’s the rare person who, when the outcome will be penalty rather than reward, says: “Yes… I did this.”
I got a glimpse of both reactions during a week of TV time.
A news report featured a Kansas woman who brought three children to a museum – a child in her arms and two rambunctious boys who were moving about apparently unsupervised when one of them touched a piece of art that subsequently toppled to the floor and was said to be damaged beyond repair.
It was all caught on surveillance cameras; the mother not in the camera’s view until after the damage was done. The museum valued the work of art at $132,000 and its insurer sent the family a bill.
The woman was indignant. How could a public museum expect her to pay for an accident? The museum’s view is that the exhibit clearly was not interactive and patrons who do not supervise small children may be considered “negligent.” The woman took exception to the idea that she was negligent.
Aren’t we all a bit like that? No one likes to be held accountable. We don’t want to be told we’ve done something wrong. Our reflexive response is “Things happen. It’s not my fault.”
Accepting blame for our wrongs can be a hard pill to swallow. It’s humbling to admit:
- I was fired because I was repeatedly late to work.
- I was jailed because I embezzled money.
- I am divorced because I was unfaithful in my marriage.
- I _____________ (fill in the blank)
Sometimes, the truth is our only defense.
In tonight’s episode of “Parking Wars,” the parking policeman pulled up to a CVS drug store to find an unauthorized car parked in a Handicapped Parking space near the entrance. The car’s driver walked out while the guy was writing a $100 ticket for the parking violation.
Her response: She joked with him and accepted the ticket with a smile. “What can I say? It’s my fault.,” she said. She acknowledged that we must obey regulations or pay the penalty. She added, God had blessed her to be able to pay the ticket.
Consider the former Penn State fraternity brother charged in the 2017 frat house hazing death of another student who was left unattended and died after falling down stairs during a night of drinking.
A week ago today, he accepted responsibility for his part in the incident. The 21-year-old and his lawyer stood before cameras and admitted: He was there. He participated. He is willing to accept the punishment. The other men charged in the death have lawyered up with the intent of mounting a strong defense.
The Bible is clear about where God stands on taking responsibility. If we want mercy, we must acknowledge guilt. No excuses.
He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper: but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion. Proverbs 28:13 (NASB)
We’ve all messed up. God knows that, and He has provided a remedy in Christ. We need only admit we need Him and accept the forgiveness He offers.