Two words, 18 letters, and one hyphen.
What may look like an easy enough word to read is a much harder word to comprehend. Due to our carnal desire to avoid consequences at all costs, we constantly look for ways to shift the blame from our own decisions and actions on to someone else. It is our “environment,” or our “upbringing,” or “that woman you gave me” (Gen. 3:12) that is at fault, not ourselves.
But while it may be easy in the long run to make an excuse for our behavior, the hard truth is that all the talking in the world will not change the outcome of our souls. We will stand before God alone, give an account for our life alone, and have to defend to our Father why we did and said what we said and did alone, and so in the end, the only thing that matters is whether or not I looked after my soul.
This is why excuses are inexcusable. We can’t sincerely hope to have an honest evaluation of our lives before that day if we keep convincing ourselves that we’re not the ones to blame. Paul would admonish the church at Corinth to “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith, examine yourselves!” (2 Cor. 13:5). This was not just a call to them, but for all generations, to go through the rank and file of your existence and see where you actually stand.
This standard that we use is not ourselves, it’s not other men, it’s against the Word of God. Paul also told the Corinthian Church to “Imitate me,” but only so much as he “imitates Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1), later telling them that those that “measure themselves by themselves…are not wise” (2 Cor. 10:12). If God is measuring us by the example of His Son, how can we hope to have any confidence when we measure ourselves against man?
Perhaps this is one of the reasons James wrote for us to be “doers of the word, and not just hearers only” (James 1:22). Evidently there were some in that day (and ours) who would hold up the mirror of God’s word, examine themselves next to it, make mental notes about what they needed to improve, and then went on their way. That’s not good enough, and as Christians we cannot be content with merely desiring to be better! We have to actually do better! As the old saying goes, “The way to Hell is paved with good intentions.”
We have to strive to be better than we were the day before, and we have to be willing to push others to be better as well. As Jesus remarked very early in the sermon on the mount, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.” (Matthew 5:13). Excuses do nothing but give us a false and inflated perception of our own righteousness, and in the day of judgment, that pride will let us down. My prayers is that I see it before that day.Last modified: January 22, 2019