The following are lightly edited notes on Genesis 3:12-13 from my ESV Journaling Bible, Interlinear Edition.
3:12: “The woman whom you gave to be with me”: Regardless of extenuating circumstances, we must take responsibility for our role in sin—for our contribution to it. The man blames God first, then the woman. The woman blames the serpent. Yet there’s always a sufficient amount of guilt for which we are responsible.
As I consider my frustration over ways in which I perceive that I’ve been mistreated in life, like Adam and Eve I want to prove myself righteous: I want to avoid blame; I want to to justify myself. My pride—my ego—is a genuinely destructive sin. And my anger is a related sin: I’m angry because I don’t perceive that I’m getting what I deserve.
Honestly… I’ve said this before, but it’s true: I go very easy on myself when it comes to the sins of pride and anger; yet I’m guilt-ridden when it comes to other, lesser sins. But if an alien from outer space were able to read my thoughts and observe my behavior for a few days, he would surely conclude that pride and anger were, by far, my biggest, most harmful sins—to myself and others. Why do I so often fail to see it this way?
Instead of falling on my knees and begging God for mercy—and thanking him that he hasn’t punished me worse for my sinful pride—I burn with anger, thinking, “This person, or those people, or this organization, or this institution of which I’m part, has badly mistreated me!” Yet no one has done anything worse to me than I’ve done to myself through pride and anger!
No one has ever hurt me worse than I’ve hurt myself! Full stop.
“This woman whom you gave to be with me…”
Oh, please, Adam! It’s not the woman, and it’s not God: it’s you! It’s how you responded to this particular test. You failed.
And you also failed, Brent. After all, your hero, the apostle Paul, was facing death at every turn—whippings, beatings with rods, imprisonments, hunger, shipwrecks, nakedness, not to mention the worst kind of slander from his enemies (which, in my experience, hurt worse than any sticks and stones)—yet he could say things like, “This happened so that we wouldn’t rely on ourselves but God” (2 Corinthians 1:9), and “We rejoice in our sufferings because of all these good things that God is doing through them” (Romans 5:3-5), and “I give thanks always and for everything” (Ephesians 5:20), and “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Philippians 4:11).
By contrast, at the first sign of adversity, I say, “Poor, poor pitiful me!”
My point is, I have more than enough sin for which I can take responsibility. Let me never say again—alongside Adam—”This person, or these people, or these circumstances are to blame. No… I’m to blame for how I respond to this person, or these people, or these circumstances.
Usually I don’t respond well. Forgive me, God.
Here are a couple of songs that are on point: