The Expository Files.

"I'm A Victim!" 

Mantras of the 90's -- #9

Special Series     


One expression of current moral chaos is, everybody wants to be a victim. Smokers are the victims of tobacco companies; troubled teenagers are the victims of society, working parents or public education; alcoholics are the victims of their genes; women are victims of male abuse and dominance; and most crooks are victims of dysfunctional families. I am not a defender of tobacco companies or abusive men, but I think there is a problem here: nearly everyone feels victimized by some ill-defined abomination. So often, when folks are confronted with their failures, their defense is ...

"I'm A Victim!" 

Yes, there are true victims. There are outrageous, inhumane and greedy people who use and abuse others without remorse. There are bigots, racists, thieves and child abusers. There are those in the human race who renounce the Lord, are full of cursing, deceit and oppression, and they seek opportunity to murder the innocent. Their eyes "are secretly fixed on the helpless," (see Psalm 10:1-11).

Yet, after you have examined your own case and have recognized that you were harmed or mistreated by another, you must find some way to get beyond any anger toward the perpetrator, and do what you must do to get on with your life. In popular parlance this is called "recovery." In the Bible, this is called forgiveness and personal responsibility.

The intense preoccupation with victimhood involves two issues which can easily rob us of personal accountability and repentance.

False victimization is the manifestation or portrayal of yourself as a victim, when you are really not a victim. Do you remember Tawana Brawley? She made public allegations of racially motivated rape a few years ago. She said she was raped by members of the Ku Klux Klan. It turned out to be concocted and discredited. There was even evidence of political motivations on the part of her advisers. Her motive was, to explain her absence from home, and appease an abusive stepfather. There are stories in the news from time to time of children accusing their parents of abuse when none has occurred. Thus there is the challenge of distinguishing real victims from liars or deceived accusers. Why would someone do this? Some (especially small children who can be easily manipulated and deceived by unethical adults) may simply be deceived; deceived into thinking they were abused when they were not. Others may seek the status of victimhood for fame, sympathy or to hurt someone.

Exaggerated victimization is the portrayal of yourself as a victim, along with subtle invitations for sympathy and support rather than dealing with problems you have the capacity to solve. In this second form of victimization, you may really be a victim; someone has mistreated you in some way. But you so overstate your victim status, you minimize your own accountability and responsibility. It seems to me, most cases of exaggerated victimization originate in the desire to avoid personal accountability and entitle the "victim" to sympathy, support and reparations. One fear we ought to have about this trend is, our children! Are we breeding a whole generation of excuse-makers and guilt-mongers? Am I A Victim?

What Do I Do?
A Bible Study

  1. Do an objective and serious inquiry into the cause of your trouble. Use the Word of God to enlighten your eyes, discern good and evil and understand your error (Jas. 1:21-25; Heb. 5:14; Psa. 19:7-13). Instead of impulsively jumping on the bandwagon of victimhood, "look to yourselves," as John said (2 Jno. 8,9).

  2. If there is a perpetrator, deal with that person. I know, it is easy for me to write this but very hard to carry out. But upon serious reflection you may decide, it is easier to do this than to live with the internal bitterness. Jesus said, "...Go and tell him his fault between you and him alone...," (Matt. 18:15).

  3. If you have done something wrong, repent of that and seek the Lord's forgiveness. In your inquiry, if you realize you have sinned, you must confess that, seek forgiveness and activate repentance (See: Acts 8:22; 1 Jno. 1:7-2:2). "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up," (Jas. 4:10).

  4. Seek to know God, and rely upon Him as your comforter. Solomon saw what we see: "...I returned and considered all the oppression that is done under the sun: And look! The tears of the oppressed, but they have no comforter - on the side of their oppressors there was power, but they have no comforter," (Eccl. 4:1). They have no comforter "under the sun!" But God "is in heaven" and He has the capacity to redeem the oppressed and give them strength (See: Ex. 3:7; Acts 7:34; Psa. 119:134; Psa. 72:14). He is there to be the God of your strength through His beloved Son (Job 36:15; Psa. 12:5; Psa. 43:2; Phil. 4:13 & Romans 8).

If you are a victim, deal with your oppression through reliance on the Creator. Don't get lost in the status and sympathy of victimhood. Let Him redeem you, then keep His precepts.

"Redeem me from the oppression of man, that I may keep Your precepts," (Psa. 119:134).

By Warren E. Berkley 
From Expository Files 4.9; September 1997