This is a defense mechanism – blaming others or circumstances for personal humiliation and failure while justifying our actions to ‘save face’ instead of taking personal responsibility and facing the consequences. Eve defensively said, “It’s not my fault, Satan made me do it” (Gen 3:12,13). It is a reaction – trying to protect or salvage self-esteem yet if it is ‘always someone else’s fault’ the issue can’t be adequately addressed.
Passing the blame doesn’t solve the problem
words and actions confessing them to God and asking for forgiveness. Repentance restores and strengthens our relationship with God while excuses weaken it. King Saul was impatient and disobeyed God. When confronted with his sin he tried to defend his actions through an excuse. However, this blatant disobedience signaled the end of his kingdom. God would rather us be obedient than to sin and then come to Him in repentance (1 Sam 13:8-14, 15:3,13-22).
Making excuses is giving a possible reason why we should be exempt from what is expected or required of us. Moses and Gideon are examples – they said to God they were incapable of the fulfilling what He was calling them to do, but He enabled them to fulfill their tasks. (Ex 3:11; Jdg 6:14-16). We also may not feel capable, however, God delights to work through people who don’t rely on their own ability, instead choose to yield to Him and let the Holy Spirit work through them. It’s not by human power and effort for we are only vessels of clay – it’s the Spirit of God that accomplishes (Zech 4:6; 2 Cor 4:7).
As we justify or rationalise our actions and words these excuses only strengthen the faults in our lives by the confession of our mouth (Mt 12:37). Making excuses is not facing up to the truth, ultimately we suffer the consequences of ignoring God and suppressing what is right (Rom 1:18-32). People try to justify or excuse questionable or wrong behaviour by claiming ‘Christ gives freedom’. Yes, He does but not to live selfishly by catering to the flesh, instead this is freedom from sin to live for Him under the Holy Spirit’s control (Gal 5:13; 1 Pet 2:16).
Another excuse is ‘it is my right’. However Jesus gave up His rights to serve us – we should do likewise in devotion to Him and to bless others (Phil 2:5-8; 1 Jn 3:16). ‘Everybody is doing it’ – many people maybe, however they will answer for their wrongdoing. Don’t violate your conscience and give into peer pressure saying ‘God told me to do it/Satan made me do it’. God doesn’t tell people to do wrong. Even Satan can’t force people to do wrong; it is their sinful nature responding (a choice of the will) to the temptation (Jas 1:13-15). The flesh is weak yet the spirit is strong (Mt 26:41). Our spirits are to be the master, directing the responses of our bodies.
Don’t use ‘serving God’ as an excuse to neglect your obligations, nor the reverse of hiding behind the façade of family responsibilities as a reason why you can’t respond to God’s call (Mt 15:4-6; Lk 14:16-24). Keep your responsibilities in the right balance and perspective: God should be number priority one, wife second, children third, then work responsibilities followed by church ministry, although there will be times when each one of these will take limited priority over those higher up the scale. Each area should receive quality time and attention along with caring for your own self with adequate rest and nourishment.
We set ourselves up for defeat and the regret of missing out on the future rewards by elaborating on or rehearsing past failures, criticising and making excuses. Seldom are things done our way, or to our liking. If you have made a mistake, acknowledge it, resolve how to correct it (if possible) and move forward wiser. Be a person of faith and action, not one who sells themselves short, by using ‘if only’ excuses. When we stand before God how will we try to justify our lack of spirituality?