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Thou Mayest

Genesis 3:12 – The man said, “The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”apple-3685939_1920

“In the beginning” …. there was blame.  When God asked Adam about his sin Adam blamed God.   It is so easy to excuse our choices by blaming someone else for our making of them, but God knows the truth and he holds each one of us responsible for our own choices in life.  All too often grown children try to place blame for the consequences of their choices on their parents, but Proverbs 5:1 cautions, “A man’s ways are in full view of the Lord and He examines all his paths.”  The paths we take in life for wrong or right, good or evil, are ours to choose and the Lord examines them in full view of our own hearts.  Circumstances in life may dictate what we have and what we are exposed to in life, but how we respond to the circumstances in our lives is ours alone to choose.  A man’s good name is of his own making.

Proverbs 9:12 says, “If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.”  A mocker is one who scorns instruction.  A grown child who scorns the instruction of their parent, often wants to blame the parent for the consequences of their own willful disobedience, but God’s word says, “He who scorns instruction will pay for it.” (Prov. 13:13).  We can place blame on our parents for our choices, if that makes us feel better about ourselves, but in the end we are the ones who will pay for them.  Adam tried to blame God for his own scorning of instruction, but God placed the blame squarely on Adam alone.  It wasn’t the woman who caused Adam to sin by offering him the fruit, and it wasn’t God that caused Adam to sin by giving him the woman.  Adam caused Adam to sin.  Blame always looks for excuses for one’s own behavior.  Children still tend to point their fingers at their parents, just as Adam did, and say, “It is your fault my life turned out this way.”  God didn’t buy Adam’s excuses or allow him to point his finger at Him for his choice, and parents shouldn’t allow their children to either.  Blame does not excuse behavior.  Romans 14:12 cautions, “So then, each of us will give account of himself to God.”  When we stand before God it won’t be our parents’ choices that we must give account of, it will be our own.  Each of us will “give account of himself” because God has placed the knowledge of right and wrong within each one of us.  In Romans 1:19, the Apostle Paul tells us, “that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them …. so that they are without excuse.”    The NIV  Commentary of the Life Application Study Bible says, “Everyone has an inner sense of what God requires, but they choose not to live up to it.  If people suppress God’s truth in order to live their own way, they have no excuse.  They know truth, and they will have to endure the consequences of it.”  Children might get away with causing their parents to feel guilty for their choices in life,  but that will not cut it with God.

The character of a person is determined by that person.  Cain and Abel were brothers, both brought up by the same parents, exposed to the same circumstances in life, and free to make their own choices.   Cain chose to murder his own brother out of the jealousy of his own heart.   Scripture says, “So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.”  Blame creates anger, anger creates hate and hate destroys.  The John Steinbeck novel, East of Eden, tells the story of two brothers, much like Cain and Abel, who seemed to be of different hearts growing up.  One brother believed himself to have inherited an evil nature from his mother and blamed his wrong choices in life on her.  Having become a grown man, and heavy with guilt and remorse for choices he had made throughout his life, he desperately desired forgiveness from his father for his past sins.  Upon his deathbed, with the last word he was able to speak, the father said to the son, “Timshel!”  The Hebrew word “timshel” means “Thou mayest.”  It gives a choice.  It is what God said to Cain before Cain killed his brother.  “Then the Lord said to Cain “Why are you angry?  Why is your face downcast?  If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?  But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but thou mayest rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6). God was telling Cain that he could choose his reaction to his circumstances.  He could rule over the jealousy and anger of his circumstances or he could give in to it.  In speaking the word “timshel,” the father was telling his son that the only thing in life that could define him was his own choices.  The word “timshel” gives one the right to be a man, separate from every other man; to be one’s own person, defined by one’s own actions and not the actions of another.  The word “carries a man’s greatness if he wants to take advantage of it.”  The circumstances of one’s life do not dictate one’s character or the outcome of one’s life; his individual choices do.

1 Corinthians 13:11 says, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man I put childish ways behind me.”  A grown person who still blames their parents for their lot in life, has not yet become a mature man or woman in life.  They have not put away childish blame and taken ownership of their own choices.  I can’t help but wonder how God must have felt when Adam pointed his finger at Him and blamed Him for his own choice.  For all the parents out there who have a child that blames them for their choices in life, you can find comfort in knowing that God can relate.  Parents are human and they are going to make mistakes, all humans do, but that does not make them responsible for their grown children’s choices.   Perhaps we all should concentrate more on being blameless ourselves than blaming others, because when it comes down to our own choices in life, “timshel – Thou mayest,” applies to all of us.  Each of us have the choice to be a man separate unto himself, defined by his own choices in life and each of us will one day “give an account of himself before God.”  As much as we would like for it to be so, none of us can blame another for our own choices in life, or the consequences they bring.  Just ask Adam!


Don’t point your finger at your parents, blaming them for your own mistakes
For you and you alone choose the course in life you take
It is often all too easy to cast on our parents the blame
But it is you and you alone who create your own good name
Parents make mistakes, one day you as a parent will too
So show your parents the same grace you hope will be shown to you
For we are all just humans to which flaws of nature belong
And blaming someone else’s flaws does not excuse your own
But if you have a parent who has done the very best they can
To help you make your way in life as you have tried to stand
Be grateful that they did and in their efforts see their love
And for the mercy of their prayers, you should thank the Lord above
But if you had a parent who wasn’t there for you
Love them anyhow because God would want you to
And though you may not agree with every word your parents say
Try not to speak harsh words that will never go away
For though your parents will forgive you, because that’s what parents do
The words you speak in anger will one day return to you
And like a heavy stone on your conscience they will bear
Never to be forgotten or washed away by tears
And one day you will wish that you could turn back time
And speak those words of love that you failed to find
Stop pointing your finger at your parents, accusing them of failing you
When every choice that you made was made by only you
Stand on your own two feet and own your own mistakes
Because your parents didn’t choose the path in life you chose to take
Parents are not perfect in all they say and do
And one day when you are a parent you will know this to be true
And hope you never find your child pointing their finger at you

(Proverbs 20:11 – Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.)

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