Who Can I Blame?
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Numbers 14:1-14:12 (NIV, NIRV, TNIV, KJV)
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1. See illustrations below.
2. Reflects tendency in marriages, families, church to cast blame for problems on others.
1. The people of Israel had been wandering in desert for 1 1/2 years since they were delivered from Egypt. They are standing at the border of the land of Canaan, the promised land.
2. Twelve spies are sent to determine if the land is ready to be taken. They report that the land flows with milk and honey - it is rich with resources. However, the people that live there are powerful.
3. Caleb and Joshua urge them to take the land for the Lord will give it to them. The other ten spies are afraid and cast fear upon all the people.
4. Rather than trust God who has been faithful in the past, the people blame Moses and Aaron (vs. 2) and God (vs. 3) for bringing them to the land. They even threaten to stone Moses and Aaron.
5. There may be times when other people or circumstances are responsible for our crises or problems, but we must examine our role. Easier to blame or judge others than to see our own faults or weakness. (See Sermon on Mat 7:6)
6. When we try to cover up our own responsibility, we blame inappropriately. The people of Israel (and us) show how inappropriate their blaming was in the following ways:
a. Inappropriate blaming is done in public rather than in private.
i. Expressed anger and blame before the whole assembly.
ii. We are to go to those who wrong us in private and then follow Scriptural guidelines. (Mat 18:15)
iii. Jesus deals privately with adulteress accused publicly by Pharisees in John 8.
iv. Also saves face when we mistakenly accuse or blame others.
v. People accept blame more easily in private.
vi. I’ve appreciated those who have corrected me in private.
vii. Parents can damage children emotionally by public rebuke.
b. Inappropriate blaming is destructive rather than constructive.
i.. They attacked Moses and Aaron rather than deal with the real problem.
ii. They wanted to destroy them as the Pharisees wanted to destroy the woman in John 8.
iii. It seeks to destroy the reputation of others rather than to build them up. "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Eph 4:29
iv. People more open to respond to construction than to destructive criticism.
c. Inappropriate blaming is focuses on the problem rather than the solution.
i. Blaming others means we do not examine self to see if we might be part of problem. The Israelites did not either recognize or admit that the problem was their fear, as Joshua and Caleb stated in verse 9.
ii. By seeing real problem Joshua and Caleb were able to deal with it and come up with a solution, which was that the Lord was with them.
iii. Illustration of pastor with three envelopes (see below).
7. Challenge to congregation. Are you facing problem or having struggles in your life today? Blaming parents for fears? Blaming spouse for trouble in marriage? Blaming government or boss for money problems? Blaming God for a sickness or loss?
8. Examine self to see where you are wrong or if God may be trying to teach you to trust in Him (ie. Israel)
9. If we have habit of casting blame on others, the results are not good for us:
a. We set up boundaries as to how far we can go in this world or even in our relationship with God. The boundary of the promised land was one the Israelites could not cross. They first had to deal with what caused to boundary to remove it.
b. We live as victims to circumstances or other’s actions. To admit we are responsible as well and that we are responsible for how we react to others, puts ownership on us and opens the door to finding a way out of or through our circumstances. The people were free of the Egyptians but still felt they were controlled by them - might
as well go back to Egypt. Not live in freedom they had.
c. There is not spiritual growth. There is no humbling, confessing of sin, and trusting in the Lord.
d. We fail to see God’s sovereignty. He is in control and why is He allowing this? What is He trying to teach me in this?
e. Without confession there is no healing of relationships. see Jas 5:16
1. Illustration of minor-league baseball manager who replaces his own centre fielder for his inept play. When he does no better, he blames the centre fielder for messing the field up so much that even he can’t do a thing with it. Leadership magazine - Fall’89 p.50).
2. Illustration of pastor with three envelopes casting blame on others until no one else left to blame. Then he left the church. (Preaching, Jan-Feb’88 p.58)