Some would say blame-shifting is a popular trend these days. It does seem as though our society promotes this idea of abdicating accountability. Despite what we think, people have been making excuses since the first man and woman. Apparently, nobody ever likes to be caught doing something they shouldn’t, or failing to do something they should.
Politicians rarely accept responsibility for their blunders—they point the finger at the opposing party. In the recent sexual assault allegations, we see men pointing the finger at women, women pointing the finger at men, and society pointing the finger at provocative media. When a tragic shooting happens, people point the finger at guns, the NRA, the media, or mental illness. All these horrible things shake down into one unpleasant reality: SIN.
This is not oversimplification. All have sinned, and sin is downright messy. Our attempts at excuses are just attempts to sweep sin under the rug.
The first excuses in the history of mankind began with the first sin:
“[God] said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”
Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
~ Genesis 3.11-13, ESV
Do you notice how, instead of saying, “yes” or I’m sorry,” Adam blames Eve? So much for clinging to his wife; he practically threw her off a cliff! Eve, in turn, blames the serpent. Adam and Eve are sorry they got caught, but they don’t want to accept blame. This excuse-making mindset has been a problem for humanity ever since.
We could blame Adam and Eve for our habit of excuse making… or we could seek the Lord’s help to end our excuse habit.
We all have habits formed either through accident or intention. We blame circumstances and people for our failures when in truth, we haven’t taken the time to form better habits. When we become a Christian, we receive forgiveness of sin and grace more abundantly than we can comprehend. Just because we are covered with grace does not mean we have carte blanche to do whatever we want. The Lord doesn’t want excuses—He’s given us all we need for life and godliness. He wants us to put to death our old habits and acquire His habits.
“Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,
and virtue with knowledge,
and knowledge with self-control,
and self-control with steadfastness,
and steadfastness with godliness,
and godliness with brotherly affection,
and brotherly affection with love.
For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.“
~ 2 Peter 1.5-10, ESV
The law of the Lord is very simple:
- Love Him with all your heart, soul, and mind.
- Love your neighbor as yourself.
Every habit we form should hinge on fulfilling these laws. Complaining isn’t loving. Ignoring my bible isn’t giving God my heart, soul, and mind. Habitually neglecting prayer (and making excuses about it) isn’t loving towards God, nor fulfilling our promise to others to pray on their behalf.
Establishing godly habits should always center around fulfilling the law of love. It’s not about patting self on the back or elevating one’s self-image—this is about giving God and the people He created the very best of ourself because we love them. We want the light of the Lord to shine through us into this dark and lonely world.
God doesn’t want our excuses—He knows our weaknesses.
God doesn’t want our blame-shifting—He knows the story.
God doesn’t want a cop-out—He wants our faithful efforts, however imperfect and remorse over our sins.
Over the next month, Lord willing, we will dig into the problem of excuses and how to work toward ending the habit. Here are some topics I hope to cover:
- Making Excuses or Taking Action?
- Making fewer excuses in our apologies
- Setting priorities instead of dropping excuses
- Accepting Responsibility vs Blame Shifting
Do you, like me, find yourself making excuses? How do you think this hurts others? Do you think this hinders the gospel?