How Shame Gave Birth to Blame (and How to Let Them Both Go)

Shame gave birth to blame a long time ago. We find it in the book of Genesis a few pages past, “In the beginning” and “Let there be light.” (Genesis 1:1-3).

Satan tempts Eve by getting her to ‘doubt God’s goodness’ (Genesis 3:1-6). Then Eve shares the perilous fruit with Adam and “their eyes were opened and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness” (Genesis 3:7).

When God shows up, Adam blames Eve, and Eve blames the devil:

“Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?” The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit and I ate it.” Then the Lord asked the woman, “What have you done?” “The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.”(Genesis 3:11-13)

Taking responsibility for sin is difficult since no-one likes to feel shame. But blame can’t free us, in fact it only buries the truth deeper inside us causing more turmoil which can escalate our problems. We’ll most likely continue the ‘shame, blame, repeat’ cycle until we’re trapped even deeper in a particular sin or addictive pattern.

Unfortunately we’re living in a fallen world which means there’s plenty of blame to go around. Stumbling blocks could be problems caused from a painful childhood, a toxic relationship, or plain old temptation pulling us away from God and into sin.

Whatever the cause, taking personal responsibility allows us to choose differently next time since we’ve ‘owned up’ to our mistakes.

It’s empowering because it moves us away from self-pity. Knowing we can only change ourselves, blame becomes pointless.

And finally, it brings confession and God’s forgiveness through Jesus, who died to free us from our sin and shame.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

  1. Are there things in my past I’m ashamed to confess to God? If so, why am I afraid?
  2. Have I been blaming others for my difficulties?



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