For the week of December 18, 1999 / 9 Tevet 5760
Torah: Bereshit / Genesis 44:18 - 47:27
Haftarah: Ezekiel 37:15 - 28
Your servant guaranteed the boy's safety to my father. I said, 'If I do not bring him back to you, I will bear the blame before you, my father, all my life!' (Bereshit / Genesis 44:32).
No one likes to be blamed for anything - right or wrong. You may react strongly when someone blames you for something, for accepting guilt is not easy for most people. Even a hint of blame can cause us to get defensive. We seem to be pre-disposed to reject blame. But why is that? Why is it so difficult for us to accept responsibility for our actions?
It might be because we fear punishment of one kind or another. We might fear the loss of our reputations. We simply may want to avoid the inconveniences that accompany taking responsibility for our actions.
Most of us think that we are happier when we get away with our accidents, mistakes and bad behavior. But do we realize what we are really doing to ourselves when we run away from our responsibilities?
The story of Joseph's brothers and their intrigue against him illustrates what happens when we refuse to accept blame. Their treachery and deceptions greatly increased their difficulties. It wasn't until Judah accepted the consequences of their irresponsible behavior that he was finally willing to take the blame.
But this is how the situation began to be resolved. Once he stopped running away from the mess they had created, things got better.
It is when we are willing to take responsibility for our difficult situations that we find the freedom and help we need. But as long as we hide behind excuses, deflect blame, and run from responsibility, we will run for the rest of our lives.
And yet to accept responsibility in a world that is often cruel is not an easy thing to do. But thankfully there is a God who blesses truth. He longs to help us even in the terrible situations that we find ourselves in. But it is only as we are willing to take our part and face the consequences that God's help becomes available.
It was when Judah was willing to take the blame that the situation for all of them was resolved even though he was not the sole perpetrator of his and his brothers' wrongs. This is what happens when one person has the courage to stand up and accept responsibility.
In fact this is what God has done for us. Seeing the mess we were in, he came in the person of the Messiah and took the consequences of our wrongs by dying on our behalf. And just like Judah's brothers benefited from his actions, so we benefit from Yeshua's. But just like it was necessary for Judah's brothers to count themselves among the guilty, so we too must accept that it was for our wrongs that Yeshua died.
Running away from our guilt and not accepting the blame for our sins keeps us separated from God and his blessings of forgiveness and help. But if we will have the courage to take the blame for our own misdeeds, how surprised we will be when, like Joseph, God welcomes us with open arms.
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