Excuses certainly permeate our society. Everyone wants to blame someone or something else. Daily we hear: “Don’t blame me!” “I couldn’t help it!” “It’s not my fault!” “I can’t help it that I’m this way!” “I wasn’t the only one who did it!”
Is our society really that bad? Indeed, it is.
Look, for example, at the justice system. Look at lawyers. The aim of many, it seems, is not, as it should be, to reveal the truth or to defend the innocent. Rather, they seek to defend the criminal by finding excuses for the criminal’s actions. Money, not justice, is often what motivates them.
Consider the excuses they come up with. The criminal is not guilty or responsible for what he has done. He has psychological problems or is psychologically unstable. He did not really know what he was doing. The environment or upbringing of the person is to blame. The result is that the criminal is not punished with the punishment that he deserves.
Excuses are often heard, also, in the practice of suing. One who injures himself never admits that his own carelessness or error led to that injury. It’s his boss’ fault. It’s the equipment’s fault. It’s his fellow worker’s fault. Even the notion of “no-fault” car insurance manifests this attitude.
Then you have excuses for immorality. The homosexual says he cannot help it, for he was born that way. It is (he claims) part of his makeup. And also abortion. People come up with hundreds of reasons for murdering a child through abortion. But really it all comes down to one thing—they refuse to bear the results and responsibilities for their actions. By having an abortion they are saying, in effect: “It’s not my fault. Don’t blame me for this.”
Does this leave us unaffected? Do we, as Christians, ever claim that we are not responsible for what we are, for what we do, for what we say, or for what we think? Do those common excuses that we hear from the world ever come from our lips?
Excuses! Yes, we too use them. And not just sometimes, but often.
When we are irritable or easily upset, we blame it on stress.
When angry, we feel justified because of the seriousness of what that person has done to us.
When we are frustrated because something simply will not go as we would like it to, we blame it on the object of our frustration. “The stupid thing!”
When we should help out someone but do not want to do so, our excuse is: “We’re too busy.”
When we do something that is wrong and forbidden, we, especially in our youth, blame it on peer pressure. “Everyone else was doing it.” Or, “So and so made me do it.”
Why are we so intent on using excuses? Why are we so eager to blame others? The answer is in one word: SIN.
We are all familiar with the story of the fall of mankind into sin through Adam and Eve’s eating of the forbidden fruit. But perhaps we are so familiar with the historical account of the fall, as recorded in Genesis 3, that we often fail to see the rich teaching of this chapter. Let us note a few things, then.
Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. They did it, not someone else. No one forced the fruit down their throats. Willingly and willfully they took and ate. But did they acknowledge this fact? No. For when God confronted them for their sin they were full of “excuses.” Immediately after they fell into sin they were blaming others.
God came to Adam and Eve after the fall and confronted Adam directly concerning his sin: “Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?” (Genesis 3:11). What was Adam’s answer? He does not acknowledge, as he should have, that indeed he had eaten of the forbidden fruit. Instead, he has an excuse. “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat” (Genesis 3:12). In other words: “It’s not my fault. It’s the woman’s fault. She was the one who persuaded me to eat the fruit. I didn’t do it. Don’t blame me!”
But Adam does not blame only the woman. Far more serious was the fact that he blamed God. He said to God that it was the woman “thou gavest to be with me.” Adam claimed that if God had not given him Eve to be his wife he would not have sinned.
Then God turns to Eve. She, too, did not admit that she had done wrong. She, too, did not say: “Yes, I have broken Thy command and have eaten the forbidden fruit.” Rather she said: “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.” It was the serpent’s fault.
We must take note, however, of how God dealt with these excuses. God did not put up with them. When He pronounced punishment on Adam and Eve for their sin He completely ignored their excuses. It was as if God never even heard them. God did not, as we sometimes do, weaken His punishment because He saw some validity in the excuses. There is simply no mention made of the excuses in the punishment pronounced in Genesis 3:16-19.
Consider, for example, what God said to Adam. “Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee saying, Thou shalt not eat of it, cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life” (Genesis 3:17). God points out that Adam himself is to blame, for he hearkened unto the voice of his wife. Adam’s excuses are simply not a factor that God takes into consideration.
We, too, should have the same approach as God toward excuses. We must view excuses as God does. We must not put up with them.
If you are a parent, do not allow children to make excuses. It is often easy (and even desirable) to make room for excuses. We all know that it is not pleasant or easy to give a child a spanking. An excuse from a child can therefore be the easy way out. But if you make room for excuses you are not correcting your child with his or her salvation in mind. We must recognize sin for what it is and punish it accordingly. Only then are we dealing with our children in love.
If you yourself sin, do not make excuses. Never say, “I couldn’t help it. Don’t blame me.” But say: “It is my fault. I did it. I’m to blame.” Only then can you confess your sin and find forgiveness from God.
Remember, with God excuses are invalid. That must be our attitude, too. If we make room for excuses, and if we are persuaded by them, we allow the sinner to walk the way that leads to hell. Excuses are sin. The truly penitent child of God does not excuse himself but admits his sin and seeks forgiveness from his ever-forgiving God.
Do not be influenced, therefore, by the world and its thinking and practices. Never give an ear to excuses. Never allow excuses to have a place in your life as a child of God.