My conscience is clear, but that isn’t what matters. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide. – 1 Corinthians 4:4
There was a time in my life when I held myself responsible for every bad thing that happened. I used to take personal responsibility for trouble in the women’s work at church (I should have known what to do), the breakdown of other’s marriages (I should have given them better marriage advice), and even our golden retriever’s bad behavior in the neighborhood. Yes, I even took blame for the dog!
When we allow ourselves to play the blame-yourself game, the ensuing guilt dries up the soul, withers the spirit, and makes for depression. Don’t do it. As Paul put it, to let it be a very small thing to be judged by others. In fact, he says he didn’t even trust his own judgment about himself. He kept a clear conscience and would let the Lord show him the truth.
That’s not to say that we shouldn’t own what is ours. As a young mother trying to be patient with my children, it was easy to blame the little imps for my impatience and irritation. However, I learned that the children did not create my mood, they simply revealed it. I couldn’t blame my children for my bad-tempered attitude—that was “my stuff” and I needed to deal with it. As Paul stated, God alone must judge each one of us. He will set the record straight. Some of us, however, need to stop taking responsibility for things that are not our stuff!
Why beboldest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?–LUKE vi. 41.
Judge not; the workings of his brain And of his heart thou canst not see; What looks to thy dim eyes a stain, In God’s pure light may only be A scar, brought from some well-won field, Where thou wouldst only faint and yield. ADELAIDE A. PROCTER.
When you behold an aspect for whose constant gloom and frown you cannot account, whose unvarying cloud exasperates you by its apparent causelessness, be sure that there is a canker somewhere, and a canker not the less deeply corroding because concealed. CHARLOTTE BRONTE.
While we are coldly discussing a man’s career, sneering at his mistakes, blaming his rashness, and labelling his opinions–“Evangelical and narrow,” or “Latitudinarian and Pantheistic,” or “Anglican and supercilious”–that man, in his solitude, is perhaps shedding hot tears because his sacrifice is a hard one, because strength and patience are failing him to speak the difficult word, and do the difficult deed. GEORGE ELIO