The Devil Made Me Do It


Despite Our Poor Decisions, God Will Not Abandon Us

by Eric Elkin

Prayer that comes from faith will heal the sick, for the Lord will restore them to health. And if they have sinned, they will be forgiven.
— James 5: 15

In 1969, Comedian Flip Wilson introduced to the world, Geraldine, the fictional wife of a preacher. She first appeared on Wilson’s album, “The Devil Made Me Buy This Dress.” The title of the album would become Geraldine’s trademark saying as she made regular appearances on The Flip Wilson Show.

Back in the day, when there were only three television channels, popular shows caught the attention of more people. A person could reference a line from television, and everyone knew what you were talking about. So it was with Geraldine’s catchphrase, “The Devil made me do it.” It took the larger culture by storm and people used it all over the place.

In the original skit, Geraldine’s husband asks her why she bought a new expensive dress. Immediately she replies, “The Devil made me do it.” She then goes on to explain how the Devil followed her down the street and forced her to look into the window of a dress shop. The Devil seduced her with praise and then forced her to sign her husband’s name on the check to buy the dress.

The devil made me do it became everyone’s excuse when caught doing something wrong, or, making a bad decision. It provided the person using it an out. They could not be blamed for it because the devil was the one in control at the time.

God loves each one of us as if there were only one of us.
— Saint Augustine

As an adult, I find myself looking back and trying to understand my childhood. I was a hyperactive child who had a skill for making bad decisions. There would be two very obvious choices to make. One that would lead to me getting into trouble, the other would not. Despite the awareness, I most often made the wrong decision. Not then, or even now, can I explain why.

I see this same scenario going on around me every day. Really bright, talented people whose lives are caught up in addiction. The addiction can be to a substance or to a desire. They know one decision will benefit them, the other will continue the path of destruction. Still, they choose destruction, and I cannot figure out why.

It would be easy to explain if there were an adversary out there seducing us into poor decisions. We could shake the responsibility and say, “The devil made me do it!” But what would an adversary say about the nature of God? Why does God make certain people more vulnerable than others?

Blaming people, God or ourselves, never produces much healing. Wounded souls find new life when they discover the limitations of their own abilities and depend more upon God. Ultimately, the lesson we learn from Job is simple, God will not abandon us despite my poor decisions, nor because of our good ones. God's love for us is the reason we are not alone.

Click to read: Job 2: 1-10

Reflection Questions:

  • When was a time you blamed someone for your bad decision?

  • How did blaming help or hurt you?

  • When was a time you felt abandoned by God?

  • Where can you find God present even in life’s difficulties?

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