The Buck Stops Here!

By Dennis G. Allan

More popular than Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit, this game has more participants than Monday Night Football has spectators. It can be played without fields, courts, balls, boards or game pieces. Games are played at home, on the job, while shopping and even “at church.” Its closest relatives are “dodge ball” and “hot potato,” though they have never attained its popularity. What is this great American pastime? The ever popular sport of “Passing the Buck.”

You’ve seen it before (perhaps even played a time or two?). . . An employee is faced with admitting an error or shifting the blame to another, so he “passes the buck.” A politician’s policies fail, so he finds another “culprit” to take the heat of public scrutiny. A child is caught at the scene of catastrophe at home, so he. quickly points to a sibling or playmate and exclaims: “He did it!”

Such games can lead to serious problems, but never so serious as when played in the realm of spiritual responsibility. Consider some examples of the deadly game of buck-passing:

Adam blamed Eve, and she blamed the Serpent. God’s verdict: Each one was guilty! (Gen. 3)

Saul denied that anybody had really sinned, and then tried to shift blame to the people under him. God’s verdict: Saul was guilty! (1 Sam. 15:10-33)

David tried to cover his sin by diverting attention to the innocent Uriah. God’s verdict: David was guilty! (2 Sam. 11-12)

Men try to blame their errors on external factors, even heredity. God’s verdict: The one who commits sin is guilty! (Ezek. 18)

The Bible is so full of such examples that you would think we would all learn the futility of passing the buck of spiritual responsibility, yet the same goes one. Instead of repenting of our sins, we seek to minimize their significance and shift the blame to others. Some blame God, saying “He made me this way,” or “That’s just the way I am.” Others blame circumstances, saying, “I just can’t help it.” Some even blame the very ones who seek to convert them from sin to God (Jas. 5:19-20), acting as if the offender is the one who echoes the warnings of God – not the one who has violated God’s will. The Lord didn’t buy that argument from Israel (Ezek. 18:29-32), and he surely won’t accept it from us. We will never stand justified before God until we recognize that the buck stops here!

Guardian of Truth XXXI: 14, p. 423
July 16, 1987