. . . he sent his servant to tell those invited, “Come, because everything is prepared.”’ But one by one, they began to make excuses.”
If I would teach my dog to fetch, and then throw a pipe wrench into my garage, he wouldn’t come out until November. I have no excuse for not cleaning it up. But I’m not worried. I have all afternoon to think up a good reason for waiting until tomorrow.
Excuses are so handy. They free us from doing unpleasant tasks or acting responsibly. Not only that, making excuses exercises our creativity – and, although I’m not an expert, I think the process of inventing excuses keeps brain cells from dying.
I have a friend who doesn’t like to make excuses. When his garage gets messy he just cleans it up. He worries me because I have no idea what his lack of excuse-making may be doing to his brain cells.
As beneficial as making excuses can be, there is a serious drawback. Once we get into the habit of making excuses, we begin to lose credibility. Let me ask you: can you recognize a person who habitually makes excuses? Of course you can. But do you see what that means? Other people can see through your excuses as well. It doesn’t take many excuses before others become skeptical and we lose believability.
Making excuses is really a desperate attempt to avoid repentance. When we repent, we acknowledge our failures and own up to them. But when we make an excuse, we are claiming we are not responsible for our present state of affairs.
So, what do you do? When you’re late for an appointment do you apologize or make excuses? I find I can fool myself by sounding like I am apologizing when really I’m making an excuse: “I’m sorry I’m late, but I had a flat tire and the dog ate my lug wrench.” The crucial word is “but.” If you apologize, and then use the word, “but,” you didn’t really apologize – you made an excuse.
Want to know what repentance sounds like? “I’m sorry I’m late,” (followed by total silence). You are confessing your fault to the person and asking him to forgive you.
Do you see why this is such a big deal? If we get into the comfortable habit of making excuses to ourselves and others, then why not try it out on God? You can say that’s ridiculous – God knows our heart and mind – you can’t buffalo the Lord. That may be true, but you have no idea how clueless we can be at times. We try it anyway. Once we become addicted to making excuses, we can’t help ourselves.
We need to repent of not repenting. (I hope I didn’t just say something theologically dopey, but there you are.) I admit, I still like my excuses (and don’t forget about those brain cells), but repentance is so much better. Jesus wants to forgive, and that feels good. Growing in integrity feels good. And when we take responsibility for our faults, we become more than we were – which is what we were created for.
(text copyright 2012 by Marty Kaarre)