Sidelined by Blame
Are you missing out on God’s best for your life because you’re stuck in the blame game?
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Pray for me this morning…losing my voice this week.
I grew up playing basketball. I love it.
Still love watching basketball today.
All through middle school, I was the starting point guard on my basketball team.
Every sport I played I wanted to the ball in my hands:
I pitched in baseball, played quarterback in football, and point guard in basketball.
Problem was, as I got older, my ambition to lead outweighed my actual athletic ability. J
In 9th grade, my middle school combined with another, and Cambridge Middle School became Cambridge-Isanti High School.
Unfortunately for me, there were plenty of good basketball players from Isanti in my grade.
And I went from starting point guard to guy who gets to come off the bench in blowouts
And for a 14-year-old kid, it was agonizing.
I hated being on the sidelines.
To this day, 20 years later, I can still remember what I felt on the sidelines.
Just staring at my coach…
Maybe if he made eye-contact with me…he’d put me in.
I tried every look in the game…to try and get back in the game.
But nope…there I sat…bummed on the sidelines.
No wants to willingly choose to be on the sidelines..
And yet, in life…many of us have sidelined ourselves from really playing the game of life.
And it’s not because we can’t…or like me in basketball…that we’re not good enough to play anymore.
No for many of us, we’ve practically brought the ‘game of our lives’ to a halt…because we’re stuck in a completely different game on the sidelines: the blame game.
QUICKSAND OF BLAMING
And there are some really negative ramifications of getting stuck there.
And I want to look at them with you this morning as we continue in our Monarchy series on the book of 1 Samuel in the Old Testament.
Today, we’ve come to chapters 29 & 30.
If you were here last week, I mentioned briefly that, our hero, David, was stuck in a hard place.
He has been hiding out from King Saul among the enemy Philistines, and some of the Philistines start to believe that David is actually on their side!
The Philistines are about to go to war with David’s Israelite people, and if If David doesn’t start marching out with the Philistines, they’ll turn on him and kill him.
And yet, if he goes to battle against his own people, the Israelites, surely they’ll never crown him King.
Yet, God finds David a way out.
When the commanders of the Philistine army see David and his men lining up at the back of their battle lines, they are worried.
And they say, “Isn’t this David from Israel? The very people we’re about to go to war with?”
And so the Philistine commanders send David and his 600 men back to the town where they had been hiding in Philistine Territory, Ziklag.
And we’ll join the story there at the beginning of chapter 30…as David and his men are just finishing a 3-day march back to Ziklag…a journey of over 50 miles.
(1 Samuel 30:1-6) – NIV
David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, 2 and had taken captive the women and everyone else in it, both young and old. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way. 3 When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. 4 So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep.5 David’s two wives had been captured—Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. 6 David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.
So what’s happening here?
The Amalekites…another enemy (and thorn in the side) of the Israelites, has plundered David’s town in Philistine territory where he and his men have been living the past year or so.
And worse yet, they took captive all of the women and children, and then burned Ziklag to the ground on the way out.
The wicked Amalekites are taking tactical advantage of a war that doesn’t involve them.
The two larger nations (The Philistines and Israelites) are lining up for this massive war in the northern part of their territories and have, consequently, both left many of their hometowns defenseless
This would be like if Minnesota and Wisconsin went to war…and all the men left to battle each other at Duluth/Superior.
And during that time, the sneaky men of Iowa (always feeling like an inferior state for their lack of professional sports team and overabundance of boring scenery) came north into MN and plundered our land.
And can you even imagine what these men are coming home to?
They were in this really difficult situation where it looked like they might have to fight their own people…and yet, God gets them out of it.
They’ve been walking for 50 miles…for 3 days…and they’re just about home.
They can’t wait to hug and kiss their wives.
To see their kids jumping for joy that daddy’s home.
And instead…what they see, is smoke on the horizon.
Their town is burning.
And their families have been taken.
The Bible said they wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep.
Their display of grief shows that they assume the worst…their families are dead…or…long gone…TO WHO KNOWS WHERE!
And then…the men take to action.
Except, a different kind of action than what you and I might think at first glance.
We’re told in verse 6 that they are so distressed about their wives & children being taken, that they begin to talk of stoning David.
You can hear it now, “You…David…YOU did this! This is your fault! If we wouldn’t have been following you around, we’d be with our families right now! YOU DID THIS!”
But think about what’s happening here…because we can learn a lot from this.
Their wives and their children are missing…what should these men be doing?
TRYING TO RESCUE THEIR FAMILIES! Every minute is precious!
Instead…what are they doing?
They’re conspiring with each other about how they’re going to stone David.
It’s crazy, but it’s not uncommon.
All of us face adversity…and suffering.
And yet for many of us, when we experience adversity, we get stuck on the sidelines…playing the blame game instead of the real game.
These men should be out doing something!
Time is of the essence here!
But their anger and sadness has them so blinded…they FEEL so much, that they feel someone must pay for it.
And they get distracted by blame.
And so let me ask you: What do you do when you face adversity? Or suffering?
Do you sulk? Do you get stuck? Do you get distracted playing the blame game on the sidelines instead of living in the real game?
Most of us are terrible self-evaluators of how much we blame other people.
If I asked you, “How often do you blame other people for your circumstances?”
You might answer, “Rarely/If Ever.”
Except for most of us the real answer is: “Daily”
Our jobs are stressful and difficult mostly just because “you know who” doesn’t pull their weight.
When your marriage isn’t working, if you had to pick between you or your spouse being at fault, how many of you would pick your spouse?
Maybe you’re caught up in addiction or depression…and you wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for everyone else that got you there!
Mentally…emotionally… “blame” is one of our favorite drugs.
Then when life is really hard…we don’t have to accept responsibility (it’s not your fault!)
We don’t have to face our faults.
And because it’s not OUR problem to fix…we don’t have to DO…anything…and so we don’t!
This sort of thinking has become so prevalent in our culture that I remember reading an article a few years ago that said because of this sort of thinking, a few counseling services are completely rebranding.
In their ads and websites, they’re no longer saying they treat people with “depression, anxiety, etc.”
They’re advertising their services by asking, “Are you having trouble with the difficult people in your life!”
“Yes I AM!”
And so I ask you: “Where you are stuck in blame?”
Think of it this way:
“Where are you mad right now? Or frustrated?”
“And when you think about those situations, with whom are you frustrated with?” “Is it always someone else?”
And then understand this: Blame is a quicksand to nowhere.
It keeps you inactive…and sidelined from what you really need to do.
You’re missing out on the real game.
It would be like my basketball coach looking down the bench and saying to me, “Sorn, I can’t believe I’m doing this, but you’re in…
Except, I don’t hear him…because all I’m doing is telling the guy next to me on the bench…the only reason I’m not playing anymore is because so-and-so butters ups to the coach all the time!”
And thus I miss my opportunity to get in.
And when you’re stuck in the blame game, you miss out on the real game!
Just like David’s men were so distracted and stuck in the blame game, that they were missing out and what God really NEEDED them to do: Save their families!
FIND STRENGTH IN GOD
So what should you do instead?
We can follow the pattern of David here…who once again is a Godly example for us.
I’m going to give you 3 things that David did in adversity…
3 things that you can do to stop the blame, and get back in the game.
3 things to get you moving again.
GETTING BACK IN THE GAME:
#1: Find strength in God
Look at verse 6 one more time.
(1 Samuel 30:6) – NIV
6 David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.
David doesn’t have anyone at this point.
His men are ready to stone him, and his family has been taken.
But He still has His God!
And David doesn’t get caught in the blame game.
He could have!
He was in the exact same situation as his men…his family was taken too!
He could have said, “Why didn’t some of you men you stay back with them?! You should’ve known better!”
He could have said to God even, “GOD!? What are you doing! They took my family?! My kids even!
“How could you?!”
And he could have sat next to the burning embers, just numb with pain.
Ever been there?
Maybe you’re there right now.
Frustrated at God and not moving.
But that’s not what David does.
We’re told in verse 6 that he finds STRENGTH in the Lord His God.
Well, how do you do that?
The best way to do that, I believe is to:
Remember his PAST work
Remember his PRESENT love
Remember his FUTURE plan
David can find strength in God…because look at his past…
David has been through plenty of scary situations before, and God has been with him every time.
If you’re stuck right now…go home and journal…and don’t stop until you get to at least 15 things that God has done for you in the past.
Find STRENGTH in Him…strength to get you back in the game.
David can find strength in God because of God’s present love.
What is God doing for Him right now?
Most of us, when we’re angry & hurt & suffering, are too afraid to ask that question.
David could say: “They just stole my entire family, and I’m supposed to ask, ‘What’s God doing for me right now?”
And yet, it’s a very important question!
God just got David out of an impossible situation w/ the Philistines!
And think of it this way: If God wouldn’t have manufactured this situation where David & his men got sent home early by the Philistine commanders, they would have been out on the battlefield maybe even for a month…
And by that time, their families would be long gone…maybe dead.
What’s God doing for you right now?
He has you here.
He’s speaking to your heart.
He still wants to be w/ you.
Find STRENGTH in Him…strength to get you to stop the blame and get back in the game.
And David can find strength in God’s plan for the future.
God has told David from the beginning that He was going to be King…and that God would use Him.
It’s not over yet.
God appears (to David) to be zigging and zagging all over the place, but David must trust the process.
And us, too, we need to trust that God is in control.
His plan is GOOD.
Our ending, as Christ followers, is more than good.
Strengthen yourself in the lord.
Stop the blame game, and find strength in God to start moving again.
And when you do…and after you strengthen yourself in the Lord…SEEK HIM.
GETTING BACK IN THE GAME:
#1: Find strength in God
#2: Seek God
Let’s see what David does:
(1 Samuel 30:7-8) – NIV
7 Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelek, “Bring me the ephod.” Abiathar brought it to him, 8 and David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?” “Pursue them,” he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.”
After David is strengthened in the Lord, He asks God what to do next.
David asks God about EVERYTHING.
He even asks, “Should I pursue them?”
9/10 of us don’t ask that question if we’re in David’s situation.
We just take off running…to who knows where…trying to rescue our family.
Who knows…maybe God was going to rain down fire & brimstone and rescue the women & children Himself, and David would have just gotten in the way
David starts with prayer, not with action.
And so when you’ve found strength in God…ask Him what He wants you to do
Does He want you to talk with someone?
Does He want you to say you’re sorry?
Does He want you to move on?
What does He want you to do?
Because if you’re going to stop the blame, and get back in the game…you’ve got to know HOW to get back in.
And where God wants you.
And once God tells you what to do…DO IT.
GETTING BACK IN THE GAME:
#1: Find strength in God
#2: Seek God
#3: Obey God
So let’s see what David does next:
(1 Samuel 30:9-19) – NIV
9 David and the six hundred men with him came to the Besor Valley, where some stayed behind. 10 Two hundred of them were too exhausted to cross the valley, but David and the other four hundred continued the pursuit. 11 They found an Egyptian in a field and brought him to David. They gave him water to drink and food to eat— 12 part of a cake of pressed figs and two cakes of raisins. He ate and was revived, for he had not eaten any food or drunk any water for three days and three nights. 13 David asked him, “Who do you belong to? Where do you come from?” He said, “I am an Egyptian, the slave of an Amalekite. My master abandoned me when I became ill three days ago. 14 We raided the Negev of the Kerethites, some territory belonging to Judah and the Negev of Caleb. And we burned Ziklag.” 15 David asked him, “Can you lead me down to this raiding party?” He answered, “Swear to me before God that you will not kill me or hand me over to my master, and I will take you down to them.” 16 He led David down, and there they were, scattered over the countryside, eating, drinking and reveling because of the great amount of plunder they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from Judah. 17 David fought them from dusk until the evening of the next day, and none of them got away, except four hundred young men who rode off on camels and fled. 18 David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives. 19 Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back.
David gets word from God that He should go…and that he should head out to rescue their families
And David readies the men for action.
The same men that were just about to stone him.
He most likely says something like, “Guys. I take responsibility. I’m sorry. But I’m also going. God has promised me victory…and I’m going to trust in Him. If I have to do this by myself, I’m going. I hope you’ll go with me. Let’s stop arguing with each other, and let’s go rescue our families!”
And off they go!
They stopped the blame, and they’re back in the game.
At some point in your life, you’ve got to ask yourself some hard questions:
Like: “How long…exactly…do you want to keep stoning somebody else for the problems that are plaguing YOUR life? When will YOU…get up and do something about it?!”
I think this happens a lot in marriages.
You wake up one day, and you realize, your marriage is like the city of Ziklag…it’s burning to the ground…it’s not working anymore.
And you can sit there…(and many, MANY do) for YEARS…sulking about it.
Stoning the other person in your mind…every day…for all of their faults.
But you can imagine that David said to his men, “Stoning me won’t get your families back.”
Let’s start moving.
And I would say the same to you:
Blaming each other, won’t fix your marriage…won’t get your life back.
Let me speak to the husbands for just a moment.
Men, God calls us to lead.
And that means we lead in reconciliation…in saying we’re sorry first…in taking the blame first.
And for some of you husbands…God is waiting on YOU to get up and rescue your family…to get your life back.
You be the first one…to stop the blame game…and get your marriage going again…your family going again.
Let’s get this rescue started…with God’s help.
For others of you…maybe you’ve been just emotionally stuck for a year or two…
Maybe you experienced a difficult loss.
Maybe you went through a messy divorce or a difficult situation at work, and you’ve been down ever since.
Follow the Biblical pattern here:
Strengthen yourself in the Lord, Seek Him, and Obey Him.
Get off the sidelines.
God has something for you!
He wants to use you again!
There’s nothing for you anymore in sitting and sulking…
Get your life back again and start moving!
But it’s hard to do all that like David did…and really carry this out.
Maybe you can strengthen yourself…maybe you can even seek Him…but most of us don’t do the bold things like I just mentioned…because we can’t get past the “obey” part like David often does.
Fascinatingly enough, God doesn’t tell David where to go.
He doesn’t say…10 miles to the east…3 miles to the west
Because c’mon even David used the metric system. J
He just says GO…and I’ll be there. I’ll give you victory.
And to many of you right now…God might not be telling you exactly how to do this.
But He is saying, “Go. Obey.”
He says…your time of sitting…of sulking…and blaming is over now.
Will you go?
Will you trust Him?
Because, it’s your trust in Him that will get you out of the blame game.
See, strong faith in God and the blame game are almost mutually exclusive.
And David is a great example of this point.
His life up to this point is an endless series of downers that would leave most of us regular folks depressingly created a list of the 10-15 people who ruined our life.
And yet, David, just keeps on moving.
Because he’s more concerned about what God has for him in the future than he is getting stuck in the past…playing the blame game..
And you can’t do both.
You’ve got to decide…when adversity hits you, which one are you going to be?
David’s faith is the thing that puts him back in the game every time.
See, it’s not even really about the amount of adversity you face that’ll determine if you stay in the game or not.
David faces WAY more adversity than most of us…and he’s moving along just fine.
It’s about your attitude and your faith.
Just on Friday, I finished the amazing biography of Amy Carmichael
About 100 years ago, she was a famous missionary to India…and also rescued over 1,000 young children from temple prostitution.
And through her life, she experienced much, much suffering.
And yet, she kept passionately following Jesus.
She writes, “It’s not really what we go through that matters, it is what we go under that breaks us.”
And for some people, those events are rather small things, but if we start drowning in discouragement and blame, you’ll miss out on God’s best for you
And you don’t need to wait for the audible voice of the Lord to start moving either?
If God’s Word, in the Bible, says that we as His followers need to humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness when we wrong someone...will you?
If God says in His Word that He wants you to pursue Him with your whole heart…will you?
So often, so many of us know exactly WHAT to do…we just haven’t trusted in God enough to actually do it.
This is the obedience part.
God tells David he’ll do it, and David just has to start walking.
Is it easier…is it less risky…to just sit back in Ziklag stoning someone else…rather than risk getting in the game and fighting to get your life back?
Yeah it is.
But you’re never going to get anywhere sitting down.
If you have a basic idea of what God’s putting on your heart right now to do…START WALKING.
Trust in God…He’ll move.
Faith without works is dead…it’s not really faith.
Put your faith on display and start walking.
Stop the blame, and get back in the game.
Your life depends on it.
Your life is waiting to get lived again.
Let me pray.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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