There’s something within our human nature that resists being controlled by others. Although we may outwardly submit to authority, submissiveness may not reach into our hearts. Inwardly, we could very well be acting like a child who is being disciplined by a parent: outwardly obeying by sitting for time out, but thinking, I’m standing up on the inside!
This is the attitude that leads to the deeds of the flesh described by Paul in today’s passage. Although we have no power to control what others do or say, we have the Holy Spirit, who can govern how we respond. Too often we try to blame our responses on the behavior of someone else. We justify our actions by saying, “But he made me so mad!” In reality, we chose to be angry—justifiably or not.
Whenever someone hurts or frustrates us, we can decide whether to react in a godly or worldly fashion. No matter how much blame we attempt to offload onto others, the Lord is not misled by our maneuvering. He looks at the heart. Each of us is accountable to Him for both our attitudes and responses.
We may think the blame game makes us look better, but God is not fooled. Followers of Christ are called to sow peace and bear the spiritual fruit of love, joy, and kindness (Galatians 5:22-23). If we are clinging to blame, all that is growing are the emotional “weeds” separating us from God. The responses He desires are forgiveness when we are hurt and repentance when we have sinned against another person.
By Dr. Charles Stanley