Who Is to Blame for Me?
By Lindell Mitchell
Victimization is the rage of our age. If you are a cannibalizing axe-murderer, it is because your mother made you go to Sunday School, read the Bible, and cut the grass. If you blow a store clerk's brains out for a pair of tennis shoes or a pack of Kools and a Pepsi, it is not your fault! It is the inevitable result of growing up "economically deprived." If you flunk out of school, it is because that vicious algebra teacher insisted that you master the intricacies of quadratic equations. Not only that, the literature teacher required you to read books. If you, as a person of color, are passed over for a promotion, it is because of racism. You are oppressed by a society dominated by white males. If you are female and lose your job, it is because of "sex-discrimination." Male chauvinism robbed you of a livelihood. If you are a white male and lose your job, it is the fault of blacks, Asians, New York Jews, or radical feminists. We live in a no-fault, guilt-free society. If someone is at fault, it most assuredly is not me.
If you seek help with personal problems from a therapist, you are apt to hear three things: (1) it is not your fault; (2) a lot of people do this; (3) I'll give you some medicine that will make you forget all about it.
In this "politically correct" guilt-free society the standard is that there is no standard. The only people you may acceptably disdain and discriminate
against are conservative Christians. White, male, heterosexual conservative Christians are especially heinous, because they insist that there is a standard of conduct. Black, male, conservative Christians are worse! They are "Uncle-Toms."
With this prevailing view in focus, we come back to our question: "Who gets the blame for me?" The short answer is: I do (2 Cor. 5:10). The sooner this truth is understood and accepted the better. It helps you avoid wasting valuable time waiting for someone else to accept responsibility for your well-being, or take the blame for your mistakes. You can get busy being responsible for yourself. This also relieves you of bearing burdens unfairly laid upon you by others.
Ezekiel assures us that character is not hereditary (Eze. 18:1013). Physical characteristics are inherited. In my opinion many characteristics of personality are also inherited. Some people are born aggressive, while others are meek and mild from the start. But character is not the product of heredity. What you do with your unique life-equipment is a matter of choice.
A good person can sire a child who is a thief, killer, and molester (Eze. 18:1013). The son's character may be opposite his father's. Yet the prophet says wicked character may belong to the son of a just man. Godliness cannot be transferred like material goods. A good man's son is free to repudiate his father's God.
He may refuse to walk in his righteous father's steps. Biblical examples abound. Eli was a good man, but his boys were "sons of Belial." They were wicked, vile, and corrupt! Eli failed to restrain them, yet there is not one word in Scripture saying Eli was responsible for their electing to become wicked. David was a devout man, but he sired the traitor Absalom. Solomon sired the mule-headed Rehoboam who caused the split of his kingdom. Grace is not blood borne.
Conversely wicked parents may produce children who shun evil and walk in righteousness. A child does not inherit his father's righteousness, nor does he inherit his father's evil. If you are the product of evil parents, take heart. It does not have to rub off on you. You can excel in life and ascend to the heavenly city in eternity. Do not waste time feeling sorry for yourself. Refuse to be consumed by bitterness and resentment. Delve into God's Word and live by its precepts. It will be the basis of your judgment (John 12:48). The Lord will not hold you responsible for the misdeeds of others.
If you are consumed with guilt because of the wickedness of a rebellious grown child, let it go. I am not suggesting that you stop caring, praying, and pleading. I am saying that you are not responsible for what they do, especially if they have refused your counsel.
Since character is not inherited, the holiness of a parent cannot save his children. Children of godly parents have tremendous advantages. They have the most valuable aids of righteousness in the example, prayers, and instructions of their parents. But, they inherit salvation only if they follow their parent's example of obedience. David's godliness, though joined with intense love for his son, did not save Absalom from ruin. Hezekiah was a good man, but his son Manasseh was wicked. His father's goodness offered him no protection from the consequences of his actions. Josiah was pious and patriotic, but his children were notoriously evil.
True religion is personally held and individually practiced. Its important experiences are essentially solitary. Only the individual sinner can come to believe that Jesus is the Christ (John 8 :24). Family cannot do it for him. The preacher cannot do it for him either. Only the individual can choose to meet the Lord's demand for repentance (Luke 13:3). Nobody under God's blue-vaulted sky can confess Christ for him (Matt. 10:3233). None but the sinner can be baptized for the remission of his personal sins (Acts 2:38). Every man must work out his own salvation with fear and trembling (Phi. 2:12).
The Jews took great pride in their descent from Abraham. It was as though their salvation was assured by that kinship. John the baptist declared the worthlessness of such a hope (Matt.3:711),), and the Lord exposed it as a tragic delusion (John 8:3344). True religion is not by virtue of family descent. It is not of human generation but of Divine regeneration. Do not think that you will slip into heaven on your sweet ole mama's apron strings!
Since character is not inherited, the evil character of a parent will not hamper the salvation of his children (Eze. 18 1417). Children of wicked parents suffer terrible disadvantages. Parental example and influence are vital to a child's development. If the children of evil parents become good, it is in spite of their parents, not because of them. Yet such children can and do grow up righteous, religious, and useful. The son may see his father's sins, not as an example, but as a warning. Heeding that warning will cause him to form a completely different character. Consequently, he will live a much different life.
Ezekiel mentions steps in the process that should be noticed. First, parental sins are seen. Sons are keen observers of their father's words and ways. This should prompt fathers to act wisely and walk uprightly. It is tragic for a son to see sin in his own father. Parental sins are considered. Observation is useless without reflection. It enables one to understand the significance of circumstances and facts. Reflection transforms facts into forces. Lack of consideration leads to sin. At a time when Israel was "laden with iniquity" one charge was, "My people cloth not consider." Do you reflect on what you see or simply accept the status quo. Third, parental sins are shunned. Proper consideration of wicked works leads one to see them as solemn lessons. From such lessons we learn what to vigorously avoid.
Thus the prophet assures us that the son of a wicked father can avoid the sins of his parents and practice virtue. The Bible provides many such examples. The excellent Hezekiah was the son of wicked Ahaz. Pure Josiah was the son of notoriously vile Amon, and the grandson of the still worse Manasseh. No matter what evil you have seen or had thrust upon you by a corrupt kinsman, you do not have to repeat the evil.
Ezekiel says that destiny is determined by individual character (Eze. 18:1929). Note verse 20, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him." No statement could be more explicit than this. God only has to say something once to make it true, but this doctrine is taught throughout the Bible.
Your own character will determine your destiny. Do not waste precious time and opportunities whining about past injustices. Do not permit hate-mongers to persuade you to blame others for your weaknesses. Accept responsibility for your life. Your destiny is in your hands. Come to the Lord on his terms and inherit.