Which game are you playing?
Nick Kyrgios is the talented young Aussie tennis player who made the news recently both for his tennis and his behaviour at Wimbledon – for which he was roundly criticised by the world’s media.
Isn’t it true that whenever we are confronted with our own wrongdoing or failings we instinctively want to blame something or someone else?
Whilst not formally apologising to the viewing public for his apparent ‘tanking’ of a game to opponent Richard Gasquet, he did provide some reasons for his lack of sportsmanship.
“I’m not perfect out there. … I’m going to have some ups and downs. … Do you want to try and return [his] serve? … Of course I tried. There’s a lot of things going on at the moment that aren’t focusing on actual tennis.”
But finally and somewhat more openly he said,
“I expected more out of myself. I feel like I’ve let people down. It’s tough.”
Nick wasn’t the first person to play the blame game and he won’t be the last. Genesis 3:1-13 actually tells us the story of the first time this game was played – where Adam blames God himself for ‘the woman you put here with me’ (!), with devastating results.
Blaming others always makes a bad situation worse because it adds to the first sin, the second one of not taking responsibility for our own failings.
So what can we, as sinners who are naturally drawn to playing the blame game do when we find ourselves tempted to point the finger elsewhere? The answer is neatly summed up in Proverbs 28:13:
Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
The Bible tells us that there are three simple but hard things we need to do:
1. repent (turn away from blaming others);
2. confess (ask God to forgive us for what we’ve done wrong); and
3. accept his free gift of forgiveness (receive God’s mercy).
(see Proverbs 28:13; Psalm 32:5; and 1 John 1:9)
When we repent, confess and ask for forgiveness from those we have sinned against, we need to be willing to bear any earthly consequences that result from our wrong-doing. However, the good news (actually the best news of all time!) is that Jesus lived a perfect life on earth, died and was resurrected to pay the eternal penalty that we deserve to pay.
Every time we repent, confess our sins (to God and to those we wronged) and choose to accept God’s forgiveness, we are affirming our belief in Jesus’ full and sufficient payment of our debt to a just God.
When we choose to own up to our part (no matter how small and no matter how “caused”) we display to others and to ourselves our belief and trust in a God who is not only all knowing and powerful but also all loving, just and forgiving. (For a great example of a confession in the Bible, read Psalm 51 where David confesses his sin with Bathsheba).
Do you want to stop playing the blame game?
Every time you find yourself in a conflict, God is giving you a wonderful opportunity to stop playing that game and instead, stop, remember and choose to rely on what Jesus has already done for you rather than point your finger elsewhere. All you need do is repent, confess and accept his free gift of forgiveness.
When you do this, you also give witness to the impact of Christ in your life, because you are responding in a way radically different to what we mostly see day by day in this world.
In next month’s issue of Peace it together we will discover what it looks like practically to repent and confess in order to start to rebuild a relationship when we have wronged someone.