A good word from pastor and author Paul David Tripp:
It’s the one biblical truth that no one believes. In fact, I would go as far as saying that it’s a street-level theological heresy that we’re comfortable to live with as Christians.
“It’s not my fault.”
If you ask the little girl why she hit her brother, she won’t tell you it was because of the sin that’s in her heart. No, she’ll say, “He was bothering me.”
If you ask the teenager why he came in to work so late, he won’t willingly take responsibility. No, he’ll tell you a long story of how there was an accident on the freeway, then a long train he had to wait for, then a water main break that flooded the street he normally drives on.
If you ask the father why he’s so angry all the time, he won’t tell you it’s because of the selfishness and impatience in his heart. No, he’ll blame his kids, or his wife, or his boss; they just make him so angry.
If you ask the single woman why she’s so moody and discontent, she won’t say it’s because of the jealousy and envy that resides in her heart. She’ll point to all the ways that life has been hard and how her friends don’t deserve the good things in life they’ve received.
If you ask the old man why he’s so grumpy and nasty with his words, he won’t tell you it’s because of the bitterness that has captured his heart for decades. No, he’ll talk about all the times in his life when he didn’t get what he knew he deserved.
Now, of course, life in a fallen world is hard. There are terribly evil and seemingly unfair things that happen to us, in little moments and in big. But, our biggest problem in life does not exist outside of us; it exists within.
Jesus devastated this self-atoning perspective on human behavior in the Sermon on the Mount: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder’ […] But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment […] You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28)
Sin is a matter of the heart before it’s ever an issue of behavior. Sin is a matter of what lurks in us before it’s ever an issue of what happens to us. It’s the evil inside me that connects me to the evil outside me. So we must confess again today that we are our biggest and greatest problem in life.
You and I don’t so much need to be rescued from difficult people, tempting locations and stressful situations. No, we need to be rescued from ourselves. We can alter our circumstances, but we have no ability to purge ourselves from the destructive patterns of sin and selfishness that are in our hearts.
Today, even though life will be hard and people will press your buttons, don’t say, “It’s not my fault.” Instead, pray like David: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)