Excuses are those things that we say to give ourselves cover for when we screw up. It doesn’t feel good to know that you are in the wrong or have wronged someone else. And so, to protect ourselves, we make excuses.
There are also others who make excuses for us – tell things that aren’t exactly true, or are based loosely on the truth because of their relationship with. They do it to protect us. There is the reality of the situation (We screwed up) and there is the belief about a person (I really like this person). We are so concerned with being right that we will ignore reality in order to protect our own beliefs and so we make excuses.
And in each case, the excuses are actually wrong. When we screw up, we should own up to it. But often times we don’t. I have been guilty of this far too many times in my life. And it helps when I am called out on it. I realize what I’m doing and have to face the reality. And I have a choice to make – accept reality or defend my belief. I could give an excuse and say it wasn’t on anything serious, but that would be just making more excuses. I’m not perfect by any stretch on this.
I think we live in an age of excuses. We see excuses being made for politicians all the time – either they tell excuses for behaviors they have done or mis-truths or lies they have told. They don’t want to look bad. They have an agenda to push forward. Our current president is really good at coming up with excuses for anything negative that might have happened – and it’s always someone else’s fault. And just to fair, there are many Democrats who do the same thing. President Clinton did this plenty of times too. He also had a difficult time dealing with reality.
We have heard excuses from church officials over why child sexual abuse was covered up for so long. Often these excuses are an attempt to protect the institution. But all it takes is one credible account and the excuses fall apart. And the institution is hurt. But more importantly, people have been hurt.
Jesus heard plenty of excuses during his time walking this earth. He heard excuses of why people couldn’t follow him. They had other things to do, chores to take care of, stuff to take care of. They had all sorts of excuses. And they all fell short. They weren’t willing to let it all go and take up the invitation to follow Jesus. It was too costly and they didn’t want to admit it.
Excuses ultimately never accomplish the actual goal of protecting you or anyone else. They usually make matters worse. They tell the other person that you can’t be trusted, that you aren’t open to the truth, that you aren’t humble, that you think you are perfect and without mistake. Excuses are a replacement for something else that is needed in our lives – confession.
We all need confession from time to time – saying that we screwed up, that it was our fault, and that we are sorry. We need forgiveness too.
So instead of excuses, let’s strive for confession and forgiveness and even reconciliation. It’s a lot harder. There’s a great investment of self in these things. But in the end, it’s worth it. We all need these things – even the people who claim that they don’t need forgiveness. They are just making an excuse for their brokenness. We need confession. And we need to be humble about hearing confession too – because sooner or later we’ll be the one confessing.