Missions and the ‘Blame Game’

Living on mission means that we will face difficulties—but focusing on God’s character will help us respond correctly.

“Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:16-17 ESV)

The blame game.

Have you ever played it? It’s the game we play when we assign responsibility for a fault or mistake to someone else. By doing this, we seek to absolve ourselves and declare our innocence. James observed his readers doing this when they faced the desire to do wrong.

Do not be deceived is a strong statement. It’s attention getting. It sounds like he was angry that his audience blamed God for their enticements (1:13). He used this negative imperative to lead his readers to truth. However, this stern rebuke was softened by the affectionate term, beloved brothers. This was a loving reprimand.

James assigned blame to his readers for their own wrong desires and responses (1:14-15). He contrasted their thinking with the reality that God gives good gifts. James brought God’s character into view as the unchanging Father of lights. God created the lights in the sky: the sun, moon, and stars (Genesis 1:14-16). And like the constancy of the sun, God’s nature does not change or shift. He is always good and always gives good gifts. Blaming God for evil showed that they were deceived.

This makes sense as we remember that Eve was deceived in the garden when she saw that the fruit God had forbidden them to eat appeared good (Genesis 3:6). In that moment, she should have remembered that God is good (Psalm 107:1). And in his goodness, he had supplied all she needed. He would not withhold from her any good thing (Psalm 84:11). And sadly, when God confronted her and Adam with their sinful choices, they both played the blame game rather than admitting their disobedience (Genesis 3:12-13).

None of us are exempt from playing the blame game. Missionaries can play it too. The difficulties of leaving home, living cross-culturally, learning a new language, and laboring for the gospel produce “trials of many kinds” (James 1:2), and missionaries could respond to these challenges in a way that does not please God. We believe God is sovereign over the details of our lives—even the difficult ones—but we can never charge him with wrongdoing or blame him for evil. When we do this, we are deceived. Instead, we need to own our sin, confess it, and receive God’s forgiveness through Jesus (1 John 1:9).


“Heavenly Father, please remove the deception from my heart that prevents me from taking ownership of temptations and sinful choices. Help me to recognize that you provide all good things for me. Increase my faith and confidence in you.”

Missions Prayer Focus: Spain

  1. Pray for missionary laborers to commit to serving in Spain.
  2. Pray that Spaniards would be awakened by the Holy Spirit to their sin and need for the Savior.
  3. Pray for ABWE missionaries in Spain as they serve through church planting, English instruction, sports evangelism, and a coffee shop ministry.
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