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"Blame Thrower" or "Credit Grabber" by Pastor Thomas Engel

With staying at home more these days, we have had the chance to catch up with our favorite television shows. The Emmy nominations came out this past week. Did your favorite show get any nominations?

Let us do a little pretending. The nominations are announced, and you get nominated for your sitcom with your name as the title of the show, something like Seinfeld or Roseanne.

It is the evening of the Emmy Awards, and you are looking calm when your category comes up, but you feel your heart pounding inside your chest. You close your eyes for a moment to try to settle yourself.

All of sudden everyone around you is congratulating you. It sinks in that you have won, and you run up on the stage.

For years you have waited for this moment, and you have all the people that you want to credit for making this moment of accomplishment possible.

You start by thanking your kindergarten teacher for giving you a part in the Christmas play. Then, you rattle off the names of your high school and college drama teachers. You thank your mom and dad, aunts, uncles, and all your cousins. You thank your dog, your goldfish, and your agent, and all the members of the cast of the show, including the caterer who makes the best coffee.

The music starts playing, and the host has to literally push you off the stage while you are still thanking everyone.

Of course, you did not want to exclude anyone who even in the smallest of ways contributed to your success.

After all, it was your dog and goldfish who had to listen to you rant how the writers never gave you enough lines. To be sure, it is your name on the show.

To stop here for a moment and make a turn-try now to pretend that you did not get the award. As gracious as you were with giving credit, would you be as mean with blaming others for not winning?

I might not verbally blame others, but I know that a few thoughts of resentment would probably go through my mind that shows how I feel about losing.

Can it really be my fault that I lost something that I feel that I should have won?

Now, let us go from imagining as an actor to how we would react to getting or not receiving a trophy to our “real” lives and what contributes to our losses and successes.

From where are you sitting in life at this moment, do you have more blame to pass around or credit to give for your situations?

Blaming others and giving credit are both parts of human nature, so we need to build healthy ways on how we deal with blaming and crediting in our relationships.

For good leadership, it is said, “Leaders pass the credit and take the blame.”

At first glance, a leader passing the credit and taking the blame is a good thing, for it is showing humility. We like leaders who can be bold but also humble. We do not like boastful or impudent people, especially those who are in leadership roles.

We want leaders who take full responsibility for the things that they are over, especially if things turn out badly. We do not want our leaders to be “blame throwers” or “credit grabbers.”

But, since giving blame or taking credit is a part of human nature, and since in situations either things go well or they do not, we need to go deeper into the subjects of blame and credit.

How about if we look at a situation that has gone wrong or right with critical thinking? Instead of assigning blame or credit, we ask two questions, “What went wrong, and what went right?”

If something went wrong, we try to learn from our mistakes. And with went right, we do not leave things to good luck, but we try to find the reasons why it went well, so it can be repeated.

“Blame throwers” or “credit grabbers” are both all about protecting our egos. Our egos say, “If something does go wrong, it cannot be possibly my fault, for I do not make blunders, and I never slip-up. Or, when things go right, I am the one who deserves the recognition, for I am always right on point with everything I do.

Again, it is human nature to throw blame and grab credit. Our fragile egos need to be satisfied, but we need to be sure they are properly built up, so they can be helpful to ourselves and others.

All people make mistakes, and if we do mess up, we can admit our fault, learn from it, and move on. We do not to be hard on ourselves, and we do not need to let anyone else “rub” in our mistakes.

When things go well, we can be our own best friend and give ourselves a pat on the back, but we do not live in our glory to long. Time is always moving forward, and that next moment will have our next challenge-so be ready for anything.

Dealing with our human nature that has an ego can be tricky. We do not want our egos to get too big, and we do not want to diminish them so much that we are timid.

It is a strange combination for humility to mix in with boldness, but it can be done. I think that it is always asking, “What is the most responsible thing to do for the well-being of the whole, including myself as part of the whole?”

Trying to get this blaming and crediting in the right perspective was a problem for the very beginning.

After the fall into sin when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the snake.

And it seems like this “blame game” has kept going throughout the generations.

When it comes to sin, we can only blame ourselves for our transgressions.

We can go back some years when Flip Wilson said, “The devil made me do it.” Well, that is not exactly right. The devil might tempt us to do something, but it is ultimately our decision about what we do.

In seminary, we had an evening prayer service. Part of that service is a confession. The confession says this about our sin, “My fault, my own fault, my own most grievous fault.”

This confession hits it on the head that we only are to blame for our sin. Taking the full weight of the responsibility of our sins can crush our souls.

Sin does flatten our souls, but God does not leave us in our sin. He forgives every sin for the sake of what Christ did for us by his death on the cross in our place.

We are forgiven for every sin, and in that complete forgiveness, we are free to do better for ourselves and others to God’s glory.

At first, King David did not take responsibility for his sin of adultery. Peter denied Jesus three times. Why did he not take ownership of his weakness after the first denial?

The disciples on the road were discussing who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Thomas said he would go to Jerusalem to die with Jesus. But he and all the other disciples hid out in fear of the Jews.

The religious leaders sent Jesus to Pilate to have him executed, but Pilate could not find fault with Jesus although the religious leaders did. Pilate thought Jesus was completely innocent, and he was correct-Jesus was perfectly innocent.

Dumping blame and taking credit is not just a human dilemma as far as trying to get this chaotic world running better, but it has a lot to do with spiritual matters.

Scripture’s central message is that we are saved by the grace of God in Christ. We are credited righteousness by our faith, and our faith is a gift from God.

The Gospel is such a simple message, but it gets tripped up by humans always trying to put in their works.

In our reading of Romans chapter nine, St Paul, who is himself a Jew, is very grieved that his fellow Jews were not all coming to believe in the Gospel.

The Jews were crediting to themselves that they thought they knew how to please God, and they thought that was enough. Paul did agree that the Jews had a lot going for them as God’s chosen people, but he knew that no one can be saved from his works.

How we apply blame and credit to our lives is crucial to how our relationships go, and also how we, and especially our leaders, apply blame and credit is essential to solving many of our issues today.

Most of all, we need to realize it is really not about settling issues, but it is about how we are treating one another as we try to settle our differences.

God has difficulties come our way to test how we are caring for each other. In these times of conflict, God can have them all go away with a snap of His fingers, but they will be around until we learn some of the lessons that He wants us to learn.

The better that we treat one another, the more likely the issues will get settled.

Taking responsibility for our own actions will help a lot in this world, but first and throughout everything, we need to get our salvation right-the the world needs to know that the way to heaven is not by works but only by the grace of God in Christ.

How getting our salvation right has to do with making the world a better place does not seem like a likely first step.

But, everything flows from our salvation. Knowing that we are saved and free from all that can harm us takes us to a place of security.

In this secure place, we are free to be humble, and in humility, we are free to love as God loves us in Christ.

“Blame throwing” and “credit grabbing” is about keeping score to satisfy our egos. Love is not about keeping score but always giving as we are able-and in Christ we are able to give fully.

With Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand, we see that Jesus is the Son of the Father by the miracle of the feeding of many people from just a little bit of food.

This miracle is about seeing Jesus as both human and God, but let us not miss all the baskets of food that were gathered with leftovers. When God gives in Christ, He cannot but help to give more than enough.

The world will be shooting itself in the foot if we keep the “blame throwing” and “credit grabbing” going.

The only way to move forward is by a faith that believes that God’s grace covers all things from our salvation to our daily living out of that faith with abundant love.

God gives us so abundantly that our cups of faith overflow so that we can share this faith of God’s grace generously and freely with everyone.

This world and our lives have issues, and in those issues, blame and credit do come into play.

But before we “throw blame” or “grab credit”, let us give abundantly to each other the grace and love of God in Christ that comes from our faiths that are full of that grace and love.

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