"But he, willing to justify [excuse] himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor?"1
The effluvium (stench) in Joy's home office was putrid. It was about the same as when we had a dead rat in a wall in the last home where we lived. Leaving the windows open day and night didn't alleviate the wretched smell. Burning several scented candles in the room didn't help either. Joy and I must have looked a sight crawling around the room on the floor sniffing the walls to see if we could find the place where the rat or rats had been trapped and died. We emptied drawers and sniffed in them. We sniffed in the closet. We sniffed the bookshelves. All our sniffing efforts to find and eliminate the culprit were in vain. We even had a termite inspector crawl around in our attic thinking the offensive culprit may have died in the ceiling.
Then lo and forsooth, a few days later, Joy happened to be cleaning her desk and there, right under our nose, under a pile of papers was the sickening culprit. No, it wasn't a rat. It was an Easter egg left there by one of our grandkids some weeks before. What a mess! What a stink! We had a great laugh at our folly!
Seriously, have you ever noticed that many of our personal problems are caused by our failure to clean up our lifestyle? And how we search everywhere for a hook upon which to hang the blame for our problems . . . and all the while the problem is right under our nose?
Speaking personally, more often than not, I am the main cause of the difficulties I have. What others have done to me may or may not be a problem, but how I react is always my responsibility—and to the degree that I overreact, that is always my problem. In other words what bothers me is my problem. And the answer to resolving my problem so often lies within myself.
Difficult to see, I know, and even harder to admit, but the fact remains I am my own biggest problem and as long as I play the blame-game, I will never overcome or resolve my problems.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, in every conflict in which I happen to find myself, please confront me with the reality of what I have contributed or am contributing to it. Help me to accept responsibility for my part and resolve that—and commit and trust to you any others that may be involved. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Luke 10:29 (KJV).