Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’ ” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. – John 5:2-3, 5-16 ESV
Jesus asks a simple yes or no question, “Do you want to be healed?” and the man’s answer comes with a story about how others don’t help him and step in front of him. Blame is his first response to the prospect of healing.
But even in the face of this “victim mentality” of seeing the imperfections in those around him instead of the perfection of the LORD before him, Jesus heals the man and uses this as a lasting testimony.
But the LORD doesn’t stop at healing, the LORD addresses the topic of the man’s sin and advises him with a reminder of what should be his focus – not the shortcomings of others but the upright obedience in his own life. His choice – die in his flesh as a victim or live with Christ as a victor.
Have you found yourself feeling like a victim? Have you found yourself forgiving someone in hopes that it will spur their admitting their guilt so you might feel vindicated in your considering yourself a victim? Have you found yourself pointing out “how much I do” compared to someone else you think should do more? Do you take pride in feeling like you are better or stronger than “them”?
I have been there, and it is dangerous ground – it is sinking sand.
It is passive aggressive pride trying to hide under the mask of “having a story that justifies my…” bad attitude, unforgiveness, lack of love, etc. It is the foolishness of blaming my own circumstances on someone else. And it stems from thinking much of ourselves — that “we deserve better” from others. Victim mentality involves lots of finger pointing with little self examination, learning, or growth.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. – Romans 12:3-8 ESV
Victim mentality is usually accompanied by our demeaning another, saying “they should have”, or “because they did that”, etc. It is nothing but a deflection from our accepting that God has us here – yes, God. And He has us here for mighty good reason. So we aren’t blaming those others even nearly as much as we are God – for making them this way – or for leading us here into this trial – or for allowing us to face discipline, discomfort, suffering, or even persecution.
LORD, have mercy on me, and upon any of my brothers and sisters who have fallen into this trap. Come and rescue us, LORD, for yours is the victory. We are singing your praises even now as we know your purpose, your will, your plan is playing itself out even now. You will see us through to the end. You are faithful and true. Amen.