Tommy Boland, Cross Community Church Pastor
How often we use this statement, tacking on a variety of endings to point the finger of blame at someone else for whatever it is in life that displeases us. I call this “victim mentality,” because when we point the finger of responsibility at others we play the role of the victim. Do any of the following statements resonate with you at all?
If only you would grow up!
If only you would do more around the house!
If only you would be more intimate!
If only you would get more serious!
If only you would lose a little weight!
If only you would get a better job!
If only you would change!
The list of these statements could fill a book. The problem with these harsh accusations is that they point us in the wrong direction when trying to identify our problems and challenges in life. These indictments well up from dissatisfied hearts trying to get through disappointing days, and they do great damage in the lives of others.
Adam essentially said this very thing to God back in the Garden of Eden, just after reaching for the forbidden fruit and taking a big bite. Adam gave birth to victim mentality.
The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate” Genesis 3:12. In other words, Adam said to God, “If only you would have given me a different wife, I wouldn’t be in this mess! Perhaps you picked the wrong rib, Lord!” Adam was pointing in the wrong direction in identifying his problems. If he had simply done what God created him for and commanded him to do-caring for his wife Eve and exercising dominion over all creation-he would have stepped in and protected Eve from the serpent’s deception. God was not Adam’s problem; Adam was Adam’s problem! His self-absorbed living caused Adam to blame everyone else (including God) for the problems he had created for himself.
And you and I are just as bad.
That is why God calls us to put off our self-focused and self-centered lives that constantly cry, “If only you . . . !” The grace of the gospel calls us to stop blaming others for our unhappiness and to rise above our natural desire to compress the size of our lives down to the concerns of our lives. Only when we understand the truth that life is not about us will we begin to see beyond the borders of our shrunken, self-absorbed lives. The gospel not only rescues us from the penalty of sin, it also rescues us from the power of sin. And there is no sin more powerful than the sin of self-focus, which works overtime to exalt ourselves and condemn others for the problems we face in life. Let’s take a closer look at what a “self-focused” life looks like:
Self-focus would rather be served than serve.
Self-focus would rather get than give.
Self-focus would rather be right than loving.
Self-focus would rather live autonomously than in community.
Self-focus would rather say, “If only you…” instead of accepting responsibility.
When all you can see is yourself, you are blind to the needs, hurts, desires and brokenness of others. It is easy to point the finger at others and live life as a victim. We need to admit the truth that, more often than not, we really do love ourselves more than anything else in the world; and that includes Jesus. But thankfully Jesus knows just how strong and sturdy our allegiance to ourselves really is, and loves us way too much to leave us there. God is slowly bringing us to the end of ourselves and, as far as I am concerned, the sooner the better! How about you?
So the next time you are ready to shout, “If only you . . . !” pause for a moment and take a closer look and see how your “victim mentality” might have clouded your view of your Savior. When you are looking to Jesus, you see yourself as He sees you-as more than a conqueror-and you will begin living like one, regardless of the cost or circumstance. Only the grace of the gospel can propel us past a life of self-focus to live in a better way – a way that is totally focused on the person, work and will of the Lord Jesus Christ. Only the grace of the gospel can puncture “victim mentality” and liberate us from the prison of the self into the spaciousness of the Savior’s kingdom! This is real life. This is true freedom. This is the end to “If only you…!”
This is grace for your race. Never forget that…Amen!
Tommy Boland is the Senior Pastor of Cross Community Church in Deerfield Beach. This is a daughter church of Coral Ridge and a new church plant. The church website is http://www.thecrosscc.org . We will be holding our large group bible studies on Saturday evenings, at 747 N. Federal Highway, Deerfield Beach. For more articles by Dr. Tommy Boland, visit goodnewsfl.org/tommy-boland.