There it is. The spilt milk. Inside the fridge. And gauging from the texture, it’s been there a while.
I instruct the first random child to pass by to clean it up and so begins the chorus. The cries of “it’s not my fault” resound from kid to kid, like an echo at a canyon. These cries prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they all knew about the mess and nobody lifted a finger. Lovely.
So I assemble the adolescent troops before said mess. I open the refrigerator and confidently declare that because it is nobody’s fault then all we have to do is watch as the milk returns magically to the vessel from which it came. The children and I wait but, oddly, the mess remains. What to do, what to do…
You’ll notice in my not-quite hypothetical situation above that blame is never assigned in the spilt milk incident. No punishment was coming at all. All that was desired was a clean fridge. Nonetheless, the children decided to make sure they were not to be blamed – as if that would be the end of the matter.
Assigning blame is sometimes unavoidable. When a project at work does not work out right or on time, then a forensic analysis is required to find out where things went wrong, for instance. But the investigation and the blame are secondary when there are messes or crises about. In another “for instance”, I don’t remember during Navy training that figuring out who let the water into the ship was even part of the damage control policy. Step one: contain flood. Step two: shut down flooded systems and electricity. Step three: begin removing water. Somewhere around step 45 is where the “how did this happen” starts.
Check out this good example of taking responsibility from the Bible:
I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed and said, “Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances. “Moreover, we have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers and all the people of the land. Daniel 9:4-6
Did Daniel commit the sins he is referencing? Nope. But he understood that the entire people were in a pickle because of the mess that was made by their forefathers. He took the responsibility for things that he wasn’t part of because it was the goal of the exile; to bring the people low enough to acknowledge the things that got them smote in the first place.
Here’s an even better example:
When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. Luke 23:33-34
Yeshua bore the sins of all who accept Him as Messiah. He died a sinless death to pay the price for sins that we committed. He’s the only person to have ever lived that can actually say “it’s not my fault”. But instead, He said “I’ll bear the iniquity.”
He also said this:
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Joh_15:13
By laying down His life for us, He showed us how to love. This special kind of love includes taking responsibility for not only our own actions but even the actions of others – especially when it’s not our fault.