Freed From Blame
The Ecumenical Council of Nicaea
12 June 2017
How easy it is to deflect blame by pointing to the faults of others. It is always easier to find the sin of the other than to face our own. We humans have become past masters at the blame game. No surprise. Look at the fallen couple of Eden. When confronted by their heavenly Father, Adam sought to deflect the guilt he definitely felt by pointing to the woman, whom, he reminded God, God had given to him. He was already blaming his heavenly Father for the fall. The woman when cornered by the accusation of Adam, blamed the serpent, who did not bother to give an excuse, but rather exulted in his triumph over God's creatures. Now he possessed the most deeply desired objects of God's love, snatching them from his love by proffering the most worthless promises (Gn 3).
Adam and Eve wanted to justify themselves in the sight of their Creator, attempting to do so by playing the blame game, as husbands and wives have done ever since. We exonerate ourselves from our bad behavior by pointing out that our spouse forced us into a corner by being unkind or unhelpful. We have always been able to see how the other has been worse than us in their behavior toward us. In our own log-clogged eyes, we have come off better than our spouse has. "See what my brutish husband has done! If only he could be Christ-like according to the Bible, then I could truly honor and respect him." "Look how my waspish wife has offended me! If she would just listen, then I would truly love and cherish her as she wants to be loved and cherished as a Christ-like husband should. But her sharp tongue has made it impossible for me." And so it goes.
One can be grateful that our heavenly Father does not deal with us in the way we deal with one another. Before the fall, He determined to save His creatures, who sought godlike knowledge from that which was not God, through knowing them as His justified children (Is 53:11). Those who degraded their flesh with the seeds of decay and death He raised to immortality through the incarnation of His only begotten Son. Those whose iniquities made them unclean in His presence, He cleansed from iniquity by bearing theirs sins on the tree. The Lord Jesus never pointed out our decided unworthiness to His heavenly Father when the time came for Him to be the sacrifice for sinners. How easy that would have been. Though He had done nothing to deserve our death, He willingly took its full penalty into His own person for our sakes. While we failed to do our duty, He has done it. Instead of pointing at our own unworthiness, He takes it upon Himself that we might be freed. We are freed from blame.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

John Chrysostom
"Women used both to call their husbands lords, (1Pt 3:6) and to yield the precedence to them. But you say, 'Because they for their part used to love their own wives.' I know that as well as you. I am not ignorant of it. But when we are exhorting you concerning your own duties, let not theirs take all your attention. For when we exhort children to be obedient to parents, saying, that it is written, 'Honor your father and your mother,' they reply to us, 'Mention also what follows, "Fathers,do not provoke your children to anger"' (Eph 6:1, 4). And servants, when we tell them that it is written that they should 'Obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service' (Col 3:22), they also again demand of us what follows, bidding us also to give the same advice to masters. For servants also saw that Paul required masters 'to stop your threatening' (Eph 6:9). However, let us not inquire into the things enjoined on others, when we are charged with regard to our own. For neither will you, by blaming your spouse, free yourself from blame. But look to one thing only, how you may rid yourself of the blame which is yours.
"Adam also laid the blame on the woman, and the woman on the serpent, but this did not deliver them. Therefore, do not say this to me now, but be careful with all consideration to render what you owe to your husband, since when I am talking with your husband, advising him to love and cherish you, I do not allow him to bring forward the law that is appointed for the woman. I require of him that which is written for himself. Therefore, busy yourself only with those things that are your duties, and show yourself devoted to your partner. If you really obey your husband for God's sake, do not tell me of the things that ought to be done by him, but of the things for which you have been made responsible by the lawgiver, and those meticulously do. For this is especially to obey God, not to transgress the law even while suffering things contrary to it.
"By the same rule, he who while being loved loves, is not understood to do any great thing. But he that waits upon a person who hates him, this above all is the man who should receive a crown. In the same way, when you are disgusted by your husband, and you endure it, you shall receive a glorious crown. But if he is gentle and mild, what will there be for God to reward? These things I say, not bidding husbands to be harsh, but persuading wives to bear even with harshness in their husbands. Since when each is careful to fulfill his own duty, his neighbor's part also will quickly follow. When a wife is prepared to bear even with trying behavior in her husband, and the husband refrains from abusing her in her angry mood, then all is calm and a harbor free from waves."

John Chrysostom, Homilies on 1 Corinthians, 26.6
Ephesians 5:22-33

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (ESV)
Lord God, heavenly Father, at the first ecumenical Council of Nicaea Your Church boldly confessed that it believed in one Lord Jesus Christ as being of one substance with the Father. Grant us courage to confess this saving faith with Your Church through all the ages; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
For the work of the Luther Academy as it supports worldwide confessional Lutheranism, that the Lord Jesus would give success to its labors
For Pastor Joseph Randrianasolo, who preaches the Word of God to the people of Madagascar, that the Lord Jesus would be with him in all his ways
For the people who attended the services of the church on Sunday, that the Word would take root in their hearts, and that they would worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity
Art: Jan van EYCK,  The Adoration of the Lamb (1432)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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