We don’t like admitting being in the wrong. When we’re under the spotlight, we do everything we can to deflect and minimise so we don’t have to say, ‘Sorry!’ Even when we do end up saying sorry, it comes with excuses. It is way easier to pin the blame on others (God included), especially those close to us. One reason we do this is because it gives us a ‘Get out of jail free’ card. When we blame others, we don’t have to be held responsible for our actions. 

Many years ago, I felt like cooking a curry dish. My mum and dad had just recently visited us from Kuala Lumpur. She left with me a jar of curry powder, locally produced in Malaysia that you would not be able to source in the WHOLE of Brisbane. I kid you not. Brisbane was nothing like what it is today.

When I excitedly went to the fridge to use it, Sue told me she had thrown the WHOLE jar out because it had hardened. When I discovered what she had done, I was incredulous and mad. “Hon, the powder is not off. It is still edible – you just break it up with the spoon”. Talk about taking a sledgehammer to a problem!

I stormed out of the house, got into the car and drove off to Coles to get a sachet of inferior curry powder. For some reason, I didn’t put my seat belt on. And wouldn’t you know it, I didn’t notice a police car behind me until it was too late. I was slapped with a fine. Got my inferior curry powder and blamed Sue for getting a ticket. “If you hadn’t thrown the curry powder, then I wouldn’t have had to go to Coles etc etc”. Irrational?  Definitely. Wrong of me to blame Sue? Unquestionably!

In the gospels we find Jesus frequently calling people to repent of their sins and turn to God for forgiveness, particularly the religious leaders whom Jesus exposed as self-righteous, hypocrites of the highest order. In a miracle that only appears in Luke, where Jesus heals a woman crippled by an evil spirit for 18 years, he gives them another opportunity to respond to him. Sadly, they rejected him and his message.

You’d think after witnessing a woman crippled for 18 years, healed and set free, they would, at the very least, be delighted for her like the others in the crowd. Instead, they got upset at Jesus for breaking their rules about observing the Sabbath which prioritised animals above human beings! Jesus’ compassionate and kind deed was considered sinful rather than something that beautifully reflected God’s character. Rather than repent, they deflected and attacked Jesus because his compassion exposed their lack of compassion.

Brothers and sisters, the next time God speaks to you, whether directly through his word or indirectly through someone, no matter how difficult and challenging it is, turn to the Lord in prayer. And if God’s conviction comes, repent and receive his forgiveness and power to live differently. Don’t harden your heart like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day.

Lord, grow our faith in you!

p/s I did say sorry to Sue (and God) for my terrible response to her.

 Mark Ng