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Oh rats! I can’t keep making excuses?!


Rats aren’t really my thing. People may enjoy having them as pets, but after having trapped one in the garage of our first house and found a half-eaten one on the back porch of the aforementioned house… well, let’s just say I’ve had enough of rats.

C.S. Lewis, however, uses them in an effective illustration that I’d like to share with you:

“We begin to notice, besides our particular sinful acts, our sinfulness; begin to be alarmed not only about what we do, but about what we are. This may sound rather difficult, so I will try to make it clear from my own case. When I come to my evening prayers and try to reckon up the sins of the day, nine times out of ten the most obvious one is some sin against charity; I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed. And the excuse that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected: I was caught off my guard, I had not time to collect myself.  Now that may be an extenuating circumstance as regards those particular acts: they would obviously be worse if they had been deliberate and premeditated.

On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man: it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am.”

“The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light.

~ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (emphasis mine)

C.S. Lewis had a gift for illustration. (If you haven’t read Mere Christianity, it’s a worthwhile read! I enjoyed listening to this audio version narrated by Julian Rhind-Tutt.)

When we looked at King Saul in the previous post, he half-heartedly apologized for his sin, but immediately made an excuse. There were rats in the cellar of his heart!

If I am being honest, there are rats in the cellar of my heart as well. When they are revealed in a moment of “suddenness” my next steps should include asking the Lord to help me begin the extermination process. I don’t want rats in my house, so why on earth should I let even the figurative ones live in my heart?


“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

~ Ephesians 4.31-32, ESV

This is part 4 of the series, “Why are you making excuses?” To read the previous posts, click the following links:

Why are you making excuses?

Making Excuses or Taking Action?

Does God Need Us to Make Excuses for our Sin?


15 thoughts on “Oh rats! I can’t keep making excuses?!

  1. Amen! Well said, Elihu. Thanks for the mention of CS Lewis. He’s great.

    Recently I was in a couple of blogging discussions about marriage and what was so interesting was that everyone wants to blame the culture around them, their upbringing, the nature of men, women, anything and everything but themselves or their own heart. Like it or not, the only rats we can actually fix and deal with are the ones in our own heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a great point, IB. All those factors you mention may influence us, but ultimately we must make a choice to love—even when the other person doesn’t seem to “deserve” it. Even great marriages hit low points when one or both people are disappointing or irritating.

      Like the character of Albus Dumbledore wisely notes, ““It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

      Each spouse has to choose Love day-in and day-out; unfortunately many choose the “easy” fix of divorce. I say “easy” with tongue-in-cheek because it honestly seems harder (and more painful) to deal with divorce in the long run…

      God be with you, IB!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ha! Now there we go. Rats in the cellar of our heart. I grew up in a house that had a cellar. I brought some mice home from school and kept them there until my dad discovered them one day. No more mice / rats. Not in my dad’s cellar. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good mornin my friend Elihu.😊
    Here’s a thought for you to consider just for fun conversation and thought…
    Is the born again Christian given a new heart? Or does he reform the old bad one?
    Is it possible that we’re given new clean & good hearts, but it’s the flesh that’s not new, and has to be brought into subjection to our new, good & clean hearts?

    Lord bless you my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good morning, Lee! That’s a fascinating question. Let me ask a few in turn:

      If we’ve been given new hearts, does it follow that the new heart no longer has free will?

      Are we instantly perfect as Christians, or are we gradually transformed each and every day?

      Do we have a part to perform in our transformation or is it done whether we take part or not?

      I believe we are like clay, being molded and shaped. Our heart—prior to conversion—spent years absorbing the values and attitudes of the world. Could God snap His fingers and make it entirely perfect? Yes—but that is not the way we see Him work throughout scripture. Even Paul, who called himself the chief of sinners did not go from zero to hero. He had thorns in the flesh, tests, trials and all those things both glorified God and worked on his heart. Why would he spend so much time writing to Christians about putting away things like envy, wrath, jealousy, etc (which are heart issues) if they had already “arrived”?

      We are perfected through Christ in that sin no longer has dominion over us. If I were to die at any moment as I walk with God, I have no fear of death for the blood of Jesus covers my sins. I am covered by grace, but that doesn’t mean that God has no expectation of me as I live out this life. I am growing up in the Lord, and as I grow and study, I become more cognizant of those ingrained heart problems that I need to submit to God’s transformation. I see “the rats” and once I see them, God doesn’t want me to leave them to breed and multiply, he wants me to get rid of them!

      May the Lord bless you also! And thanks for the discussion. I learn so much from deep questions like yours. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good mornin Elihu. I thank you for your kind and thoughtful reply sister.

        We agree that we are a continual work in progress, but it’s the parts of us that need the work that I believe we’re visiting about.

        Our born again spirit/new heart is perfect (as I read scripture).
        Look at a few verses please…
        Ezekiel 36.26
        “A new heart also will I give you and a new spirit will I put within you…”

        Romans 2.29 “…circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit…”

        Hebrews 10.14
        “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”

        It’s the flesh, the unredeemed and imperfect part of us that is under constant construction. No?

        Romans 7.16-18

        “16If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.

        17Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

        18For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”

        But in addition to this fun dialogue, I want you to know that I appreciate your kindness, and I’m thankful for brethren like yourself Elihu that loves the lord as I do.

        God bless you my friend.


  4. We had a rat come up through the toilet once. I was not witness to it. My husband is the pest controller in our house. He flushed it right back where he came from. So glad I didn’t see it. We don’t often see the signs of those “rats in the cellar” but they are there. We face them every day in the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh no! Rats in the toilet—that makes my skin crawl! My husband laughed when I read him your comment because he too is the pest controller in our home, and would probably have done something similar.

      And yes, the rats are there. I believe God’s Word is the light that exposes them to our view, and when we see them they need the be “flushed” as it were. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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