‘Then Sarai said to Abram, this is all your fault. I put my servant into your arms, but now that she’s pregnant she treats me with contempt. The Lord will show who’s wrong – you or me?’ Gen. 16v5.

SARAI gave Hagar to Abram as a substitute wife; a common practice at the time. A married woman who could not have children was shamed by her peers and was often required to give a female servant to her husband in order to produce children. The children born to the servant woman were considered children of the wife. Abram was acting in line with the custom of the day. His action showed lack of faith that God would fulfil His promise.

Sarai took matters into her hands by giving Hagar to Abram. Like Abram, she had trouble believing God’s promise. From this lack of faith came a series of problems. This invariably happens when we take over things from God, trying to make His promise come true, through efforts that are not in line with His specific directions.

In this case, time was the greatest test to Abram and Sarai’s willingness to let God work in their lives. Sometimes we too must simply wait. When we ask God for something and have to wait, we can be tempted to take matters into our own hands and interfere with God’s plans.

Although Sarai arranged that Hagar would have a child by Abram, she blamed Abram later for the results. It is often easier to strike out in frustration and accuse someone else than admit error and ask for forgiveness.

The bible is replete with examples of people who tried to pass the buck rather than admit error or ask for forgiveness.

Gen. 3v12-13: ‘The man replied, it was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it. Then the Lord God asked the woman, what have you done? The serpent deceived me, she replied. That’s why I ate it’.

Also, Exodus 5v19, 20, 21: ‘The Israelite foremen could see that they were in serious trouble when they were told, ‘you must not reduce the number of bricks you make each day’. As they left Pharaoh’s court, they confronted Moses and Aaron, who were waiting outside for them. The foremen said to them, ‘may the Lord judge and punish you for making us stink before Pharaoh and his officials. You have put a sword into their hands, an excuse to kill us!’

Exodus 17v2, 3: ‘So once more the people complained against Moses. Give us water to drink! They demanded. Quiet! Moses replied. Why are you complaining against me? And why are you testing the Lord? But tormented by thirst, they continued to argue with Moses. Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Are you trying to kill us, our children and our livestock with thirst?’

And also, Exodus 32v21-24: ‘Finally, he turned to Aaron and demanded, what did these people do to you to make you bring such terrible sin upon them? Don’t get so upset, my Lord, Aaron replied. You yourself know how evil these people are. They said to me; make us gods who will lead us. We don’t know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt. So I told them, whoever has gold or jewellery, take it off. When they brought it to me, I simply threw it into the fire – and out came this calf!’

From these and more, we can see, no one wants to be blamed. People would like to pass the buck, if only it will excuse them. Remember, when God asked Adam about his sin, Adam blamed Eve. Then Eve blamed the serpent.

How easy it is to excuse our sins by blaming someone else or circumstances. But God knows the truth, and he holds each of us responsible for what we do. Admit your wrong attitudes and actions and apologise to God. Don’t try to get away with sin by blaming someone else.

Adam and Eve chose their course of action (disobedience), and God chose His. As a holy God, He could respond only in a way consistent with His perfect moral nature. He could not allow sin to go unchecked; He had to punish it. If the consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin seem extreme, remember that their sin set in motion the world’s tendency toward disobeying God. That is why we sin today. Every human being ever born, with the exception of Jesus, has inherited the sinful nature of Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve’s punishment reflects how seriously God views sin of any kind.

The sin of passing the buck must be dealt with in the life of so-called believers. We should learn always to acknowledge our shortcomings, apologise, accept corrections and move on.

Remember, in Sarai’s rage, she said: ‘This is all your fault… the Lord will show who’s wrong – you or me’. I think at this point, what is needed is admittance and not blame; forgiveness and not judgement.    God will certainly punish sin no matter who is involved.

But we need to ask ourselves this crucial question: are you looking for someone else to blame for your mistakes? Weigh your actions!

Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Retreat Centre,
Delta State.

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