You know it happens. In fact, we've all done it more times than we care to admit. Rather than owning up to a mistake, we make excuses:

  • "What I did wasn't as bad as what he did."
  • "I can't help being the way God made me."
  • "I know it hurt her feelings, but I only told the truth."

There is nothing new or creative about this approach. It is as old as Eden and deeply ingrained in the processes of human thought and speech (Genesis 3).

"The woman you gave me caused me to eat it."

"Kings get bored just sitting on their balconies."

"Crucify him! Who knows the truth about him anyway?"

The trick of refusing to accept responsibility has been institutionalized in our culture. Several years ago, the famous psychiatrist Karl Menninger called attention to the virtual disappearance of the word "sin" from contemporary vocabulary. With a sort of verbal sleight of hand, we tend to use a soft word such as "mistake" where we would better use the more severe term "sin"; we seem to prefer "sickness" to "evil." The softer words don't sound nearly so serious.

The greatest sin of all is blindness to one's own sinfulness. Until sin is admitted, forgiveness is irrelevant. Only when I accept responsibility for my actions can anything constructive be done toward putting things right. The language of honest confession is a far cry from making excuses:

"God, be merciful to me. I am a sinner" (Luke 18:13).

"Jesus came to save sinners — of whom I am the worst" (1 Timothy 1:15).

"If we confess our sins, he will forgive and cleanse us ..." (1 John 1:7).

It is a rare person who admits to the error.
It is a rare person who is brave enough to admit that he made the error on an office report, that she was the one guilty of spreading an unflattering tale, or that the marriage is failing because he has been abusive.

Rare as such persons may be, they are the ones who deserve the highest respect. They are the ones who correct faults, salvage relationships, and conquer defects of character. In their remorse, they find God. In finding God, they find not only pardon but empowerment to live an entirely new way.

If you're hiding behind a smokescreen of excuses, it is time to step into the light of honesty. You'll see things clearly — for the first time in a long time.