Passing the Buck

We have family visiting this week, and on the return journey from a service we had a discussion about the origin of the phrase, “to pass the buck.” David had used it in a sermon and the translator could not translate it as she had no idea what he had meant. We had many ideas as to what it could or should have originated from, but none of our ideas were correct.

I looked it up and found this answer, “Passing the buck” originated from a ritual practiced during card games. Card players used to place a marker, called a “buck,” in front of the person who was the dealer. This was often a knife, and knives often had handles made of buck’s horn – hence the marker becoming known as a buck. When the dealer’s turn was done he ‘passed the buck’. Silver dollars were later used as markers and this is probably the origin of the use of buck as a slang term for dollar. That marker was passed to the next player along with the responsibility of dealing. Eventually “passing the buck” became synonymous with passing on responsibility.

Isn”t it strange how often we use phrases that we have no idea of the origin? Well, at least we know the modern meaning of the phrase, but what of those who are listening to us. Do we speak clearly enough that others hear what we want them to know? On this occasion, David had no problem finding another phrase which his translator understood, but in every day life, do people understand why we want to tell them about Jesus? How do we help them to understand the importance of the message of salvation for their eternal destiny?

Not one of us who are believers can “pass the buck” to anyone else, as it is our task to pass on the message. Jesus said, “Ye shall be my witnesses, in Jerusalem (at home), in all Judea (in the surrounding area) and Samaria (even to those we do not particularly like) and to the ends of the earth,” Acts 1:8. (parenthesis and italics mine) He wants us to witness of Him. That makes me think of what impression I leave on other people of who my Jesus is.

But he doesn’t leave us powerless to do this task. The same verse tells us we shall receive power from the Holy Spirit. There is no need to pass the buck! He will strengthen and empower us to do the job and also prepare the heart of the person we are witnessing to. It is after all His Will that they hear about Him and understand their need and the remedy for their sins.

While swimming this week, David”s brother heard shouts in a language he does not even know one word of. He could have passed the buck and ignored the lady calling. No one would have thought anything of it. But he didn”t. Instead, he took the responsibility on himself to go and see what the problem was and ended up rescuing a disabled lady, who was having difficulties in deep water. She would most certainly have drowned had he not done something.

Let us be on the look out for people to talk to this week who need to hear about Jesus. David is one of the best people who I know at this task. He can turn a simple question about time, weather or even directions into an opportunity to tell people about the need to be ready for Eternity, the Saviour who loves them unconditionally and made the way for them to get to Heaven. Not only that, but he loves to do it, savoring the opportunity to share with others what He knows to be great news. That is a Gift, and not all of us have a gift just like that. But we can live a life of example, help someone in need, give a Gospel Tract or say a word or two at the right moment. Then, at least in these instances, we need never “pass the buck”

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