It’s Not My Fault!

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

People have a hard time accepting responsibility for the things they have done. We would rather see ourselves as a victim than to admit that we blew it. If the mistake is someone else’s fault then they have to deal with the consequences and since I am a victim of their mistake then I am owed pity and compensation for my pain.

The Bible tells the story of twin brothers who did not get along. Even before birth, they fought each other in their mother’s womb. A prophecy was given to the mother about her children. God told her that each son would establish a nation, but that the younger son would rule over the elder son (Genesis 25:21-23). It was the custom of the people in these days to select one of the children to lead the family after the father died. Generally, the eldest son was selected by the father giving his son a blessing. God’s prophecy said that in this family the second son was to receive the blessing of his father.

In order to understand this story, we also need to know how children inherited their father’s estate when he died. At a man’s death, his sons were counted and one was added to the count. His estate was then divided into equal shares. One share would go to each son, but the eldest son would receive two shares. This extra share was known as the birthright.

Two sons were born. Esau was the elder and Jacob was the younger. Esau was an outdoorsman who loved to hunt. Jacob was a peaceful man who preferred watching the family’s herds. One day Esau came back from an unsuccessful hunt and he was starving. Jacob happened to be cooking a red bean stew, so Esau demanded a gulp of the red stuff Jacob was cooking. Perhaps in jest or perhaps to be irritating, Jacob said Esau could only have a bowl if he turned over his birthright (his extra share in the inheritance) to him. Now their father was a very wealthy man; in today’s terms, he would probably be a millionaire many times over. The extra share was easily worth millions of dollars in our terms. Esau didn’t care about the money, he didn’t really expect to outlive his father anyway. All Esau could think about was his rumbling tummy, so he agreed to give Jacob the extra share (Genesis 25:29-34). What does this tell you about Esau’s character?

Later, Isaac decided he was close to death. His favorite son was Esau because he loved the wild game that Esau brought to the dinner table. Isaac decided to give Esau the blessing even though God had said it was to go to Jacob. Isaac’s wife overheard his plans and she came up with a way to defeat Isaac’s wrongful plan. While Esau was away making preparations, she had Jacob disguise himself as Esau. Because Isaac was old and blind, he was fooled by the disguise and he gave Jacob the blessing instead of Esau.

When Esau returned and found out that his brother received the blessing, he was furious (Genesis 27:30-36). Notice that Esau blamed everything on Jacob. He claimed that Jacob took his birthright, but this is a lie. Esau foolishly sold his birthright to Jacob for a mere bowl of red bean stew. He also said that Jacob took his blessing, but this too is a lie. God said the blessing belonged to Jacob. It was Esau and Isaac who were planning to steal Jacob’s blessing away from him. Why didn’t Esau just say, “Oh well, I got what I deserved”?

Rather than admit his mistakes, Esau lied. To whom did Esau lie (I John 1:8-9)? Truth does not change, even if we refuse to look at it.

For Further Study

Verses to Consider:

  • Psalm 51:9-13
  • Ezekiel 18:1-32
  • Ezekiel 33:2-9
  • Matthew 7:1-5
  • Matthew 12:36-37
  • Romans 2:1-8, 21-24
  • I Corinthians 4:1-2
  • Galatians 6:1-5
  • I Timothy 6:20-21
  • James 4:17
  • I Peter 4:7-11

Questions to Ponder:

  1. In Genesis 3:12-13, who did Adam and Eve blame for their sin?
  2. In Genesis 16:5, who did Sarai blame for the difficulty she was having with Hagar?
  3. In Exodus 32:22-24, who did Aaron blame for the creation of the idol?
  4. Whom does God hold responsible for a person’s sins?
  5. Can you be held responsible for the sin of another person?
  6. Before taking on the responsibility of leading someone else out of sin, what must we first do?
  7. In Luke 19:11-27, why was the steward who had earned ten minas given the one mina of the lazy steward?
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