Excuses are beautiful things. They get us out of consequences, seemingly explain our behavior, and allow us to commit sin without worry. Every human being that I know of has at least one or two ready excuses. The ones I enjoy the most are when we excuse our behavior based on someone else’s behavior. “They acted un-biblically to me, so that gives me the excuse to act un-biblically to them.” So many church problems and so many problems in relationships are caused because we focus more on someone else’s behavior rather than focusing on our own. I guess that explains the get-the-log-out-of-your-own-eye principle. We truly need to focus on developing ourselves and submitting to the authority of God rather than allow ourselves to get sidetracked with the problems of others. Continual criticism is just an excuse not to grow as a Christian.
And our excuses do not stop with others. They often transcend to include our own self-worth and history. For example, how often have we used the excuse that we sin because we are still in this body of flesh. While it may be true that we are in a body that desires fleshly pursuits, it is not a valid excuse for a true Christian. While once we were slaves to sin, we are now set free to be slaves of the Spirit if we have been indwelled by the Spirit. Will we still make mistakes? Of course. But the more we rely on the guidance of the Spirit and the more we submit to the authority of Christ in our hourly life, the less chance sin will have of conquering us. Sin does not have to reign in our mortal bodies, but we allow it to.
In addition to our flesh, we often use the excuse of our history or of things that have happened to us in our past to influence our present. While events in our past may have some recourse to our present, if we are a new creation, we should have already put to death those things in the past. Psychology and psychiatry put a great emphasis on the events of our past and how they influence our present actions. But how much influence should an event that happened before we were set free from our prison of sin have on our present actions? If we still have problems forgiving others for the sins they have committed against us in the past, can we truly find forgiveness for our sins that we have committed against a holy and just God? It seems unfathomable that we could understand God’s forgiveness clearly, yet still retain a tight grip on our own injustices. Like the unmerciful servant, have we truly grasped the importance of forgiveness when we cannot extend forgiveness in turn?
For the reason of forgiveness, how much influence can events of the past have upon our present? Now, I’ve never been sexually or physically abused, so I obviously do not understand fully the ramifications of such actions. But I do understand what the Bible tells me about a new creation and the importance of forgiveness. When I became a new creation, the old has passed away. Behold, all things are new. If all things are new, how can I possibly still harbor resentment or unforgiveness toward another? If I truly understand the nature of sin, and how a sinless God understands all sin, then how can I still hold another guilty of past crimes against me? Or, for that matter, how can I justify my sinful actions when another performs or has performed sinful actions against me?
For Christians, there are simply no excuses worthy of acting in an un-Christian like manner. Regardless of what has been done against us, we must hold firmly to that supreme example set forth by Jesus. “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”