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No, our "word for today" is not from a cartoon, but I do occasionally see something enlightening in a little comic strip called "Family Circus." For example, there was this one where the house is a total disaster, and Mom walks in. The look on her face tells you that Mt. Vesuvius is about to blow. She has only one question, "Who did this?" Dad and the children are all innocent, of course. Apparently, the house must have just exploded and made itself a mess. But when Mom presses the question for who should be held responsible, one of the kids cleverly responds: "It was the ghost of 'not me'!"
That ghost of "not me" really gets around. There are a lot of folks who see almost every problem, every conflict, or every mistake that way. Whoever is at fault, it certainly isn't me. Sadly, those folks continue to be the common denominator in one problem after another because they simply can't see, or admit, their blame for anything. That's what destroys marriages, and children, and friendships, working relationships, churches - you name it. Mature people, on the other hand, are those who can look in the mirror and honestly see their part of the blame.
Our word for today from the Word of God - Proverbs 16:2 - provides this insight: "All a man's ways seem innocent to him..." Boy, that is so true! "They" did it! They caused the problem. I'm a victim! It's their fault." Never me - always them. We have this amazing, and perverted, ability to see ourselves as usually being in the right, of bearing little or no blame for the problem, of seeing our own complete innocence and someone else's complete guilt. If you are to any degree like that, I could almost guarantee you are leaving behind you your own personal "trail of tears."
That verse in Proverbs 16 says, "All a man's ways seem" - notice the word "seem" - "innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord." See, when God looks at the situation, He sees what's really going on inside us and holding us responsible for the part that we've done wrong. I'm happy to repent for other people's sins. I just need to be quick to repent of my sins.
Sadly, those who tend to see the fault as being in the other person find themselves trapped in a repetitious life-cycle of friction, unhappiness, self-pity, negativity, destructive talk, anger, hurt, and a constant state of what I call "un-peace." You live that way until you finally see the trail of brokenness behind you, and you realize you were a common denominator in all or most of that unhappiness.
That's when you stop blaming others and you finally experience what Jesus promised, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32). And the truth is, the man or woman in the mirror has been wrong, has shared the blame, and has apologies to give, as well as some forgiving to do.
I saw a simple, but profound little sentence on a church sign recently. It said, "God, I have a problem. It's me." That kind of prayer is the only place some of us are ever going to find any healing, any happiness, or any peace. Not "I have a problem - it's them," but "it's me." That admission can save a marriage, a relationship with a child, the unity of a church or a ministry, or a relationship that's too valuable to lose.
It's not my brother, not my sister, but it really is me, O Lord, standin' in the need of prayer! The answer is in the mirror...and then on your knees.