Excuses, Everybody Has One

     “He who excuses himself accuses himself.” Excuses are like noses: everybody has one. However, there may be something about excuses we have not thought much about. As Israel of old had their scapegoat on whom the sins of the people were placed (Lev. 16:5-10), so we have our excuses. We use them as our scapegoats.  They are easy and readily available.  So, if we want to excuse ourselves from any course of action or fault, we just come up with a good excuse.

     The first thing we need to remember about excuses is that they anger the Lord.  Remember when God called Moses to deliver the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage? Moses made several excuses.  He said, “I’m not equal to the task” (Ex. 3:10-12). Further, Moses said, “They will ask who sent me” (Ex. 3:13-14). Also, “They will not believe me” (Ex. 4:1). Then he said, “I can’t talk well” (Ex. 4:10-11).  Usually we read this account and say there is not much merit to Moses’ excuses, while our own excuses always sound good to us. We think when we make our excuses God will excuse us. No, excuses don’t alleviate the anger of the Lord. The point is not how good or poor the excuses are – but the Lord’s reaction. God was angry with Moses because he was not going to do what God told him to do.

     Second, excuses don’t change the consequences. In the parable of Luke 14:15-24, our Lord told us of three excuses. We might have thought they were good reasons, but the Lord said they were excuses. One man had bought a piece of ground, another a yoke of oxen, and another married a wife. We are amused at the shallowness of the excuses, yet the same principle is stated. The excuses did not appease the master (Lk. 14:21).   The Lord’s point is that because of the excuse making those who made excuses missed something. No matter how good the excuse, when it is given, it prevents us from partaking of the blessings of the feast. Therefore, the master sent his servants out into the highway and hedges to invite the outcast of society to the feast so that the house was filled.

     Third, excuses don’t eliminate the responsibility even though we like to think they do. Generally, excuses are an attempt to do away with responsibility. “I never was responsible.” Adam and Eve used this.  Adam was called by God, “What have you done? Have you eaten the fruit I told you not to eat?”  Before Adam admits that he ate the fruit of the forbidden tree, he tries to explain why he was not responsible. “The woman gave it to me. It is her fault. You gave me the woman, the fault lies somewhere between You and Eve, but not me” (Genesis 3:9-11). Eventually, Adam had to admit he had eaten. Eve had to bear her share of the burden for encouraging Adam. But, Adam was still guilty. In the final analysis the responsibility is mine. Crying about it won’t change a thing.

     Consider, what is the true nature of excuses? Most of the time excuses are not the truth. Excuses have been defined as “the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie.”  Excuses do not really tell why we do or don’t do a thing. So we manufacture an excuse; take something that is part of the truth and blow it up to make another thing more important.  Most of the time we make excuses because we do not want to do or say something. We don’t say, “I didn’t want….” so we make excuses.

     Finally, since most people easily see through our flimsy layer of excuses, how much more does our Father see right through them to our heart? Our great danger is in deceiving ourselves. We lie to ourselves and cut ourself off from ever solving the problem from which we are excusing ourselves. The remedy is to get our “want to” right. Face the truth about our excuses and rid ourselves of them.     

~ Rickie Jenkins