Summary: Self-pity has become a lifestyle for many. We can break down the walls of self-pity through the word of God.
January 5, 2003
Subject: Overcoming the Victim Mentality
Title: Whom Can I Blame?
I want to begin todays sermon with a story from Max Lucados "The Applause of Heaven".
"I have everything I need for joy!" Robert Reed said.
"Amazing!" I thought.
His hands are twisted and his feet are useless. He can’t bathe himself. He can’t feed himself. He can’t brush his teeth, comb his hair, or put on his underwear. His shirts are held together by strips of Velcro. His speech drags like a worn-out audiocassette.
Robert has cerebral palsy.
The disease keeps him from driving a car, riding a bike, and going for a walk. But it didn’t keep him from graduating from high school or attending Abilene Christian University, from which he graduated with a degree in Latin. Having cerebral palsy didn’t keep him from teaching at a St. Louis junior college or from venturing overseas on five missions trips.
And Robert’s disease didn’t keep him from becoming a missionary to Portugal.
He moved to Lisbon, alone, in 1972. There he rented a hotel room and began studying Portuguese. He found a restaurant owner who would feed him after the rush hour and a tutor who would instruct him in the language.
Then he stationed himself daily in a park, where he distributed brochures about Christ. Within six years he led seventy people to the Lord, one of whom became his wife, Rosa.
I heard Robert speak recently. I watched other men carry him in his wheelchair onto the platform. I watched them lay a Bible in his lap. I watched his stiff fingers force open the pages. And I watched people in the audience wipe away tears of admiration from their faces. Robert could have asked for sympathy or pity, but he did just the opposite. He held his bent hand up in the air and boasted, "I have everything I need for joy."
His shirts are held together by Velcro, but his life is held together by joy.
This is a difficult sermon to preach, but I believe that it is the perfect time to do it as we enter in to a new year and prepare for what God is going to do in our church.
Many of us suffer from the victim mentality. Our society tells us that we don’t have to take responsibility for our actions. We can blame someone else. The onset of Freudian psychology began to permeate our culture with the idea that every wrong action you take can be blamed on things that happened to you in your early childhood. You don’t have to accept any responsibility; you are the victim.
Today I want to look at a couple of passages to see (1) how Jesus responded to the victim mentality, and (2) how the early church responded.
Hopefully we can come away today seeing that we can go from being victims to becoming victorious.
I. The man at the pool. Look at those who congregated at the pool of Bethesda. A great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. Misery loves company. Here we see a multitude of people lying around waiting for the waters to stir. Picture if you would hundreds, even thousands of sick lying around waiting for the moving of the waters. And only the first one would be healed.
What about the rest?
"I’m still sick but it’s not my fault"
"I wanted to get in the water but somebody beat me to it."
"I am not responsible for my circumstances." Verse 5, "Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years." The NIV says he was an invalid for thirty-eight years. The Greek word translateed "infirmity" - astheneia - literally means feebleness, malady, frailty , disease, infirmity, sickness, weakness.
None of these words give and indication that the man was a cripple, paralyzed or had anything that would prevent him from walking. Other than the fact that he had laid there for thirty-eight years. It may be that he had a condition that made it difficult for him to walk so he just quit trying. Muscles became atrophied.
Those who hve been bed ridden for a long period of time find it difficult to just get up and walk. Not that there is any physical problem but the muscles have to be strengthened and trained again. Worse than that, his will had become atrophied.
But it wasn’t his fault you see. Jesus questions a man.
"Do you want to be made well?" Seems like a rhetorical question. Who wouldn’t want to be made well? It was a question to the man’s will rather than the man’s physical condition. Rather than answer Jesus’ question with a yes, he makes excuses. "I can?t be healed. Nobody will put me into the pool. If I try, somebody gets there before me. It’s not my fault." It seems that Jesus is moving toward a healing of the will.