We humans are pros at making excuses for just about anything, especially when we want to cover our weak spots or hide the dark corners of our hearts.
Years ago I spoke with a church leader who’d recently left his wife of 28 years. The deacons had already spent time with him, too. We all tried to encourage counseling and reconciliation—to no avail.
“I just need some personal space to sort things out,” he said. Minutes later he said, “I’m really struggling right now. As a matter of fact, I don’t even know if God exists anymore.”
The truth was—he’d been having an affair for five years. He needed personal space not to sort things out but to allow his girlfriend to spend the night. And he had to start doubting God’s existence so he could ease his guilty conscience. After all, if God didn’t exist then there would be no absolute truth and that meant he could do whatever he wanted to satisfy his own desires without breaking moral laws. Making excuses for sin rather than allowing God’s light to expose it caused this man to divorce his wife and shatter his family.
My friend made excuses for adultery, and it’s easy for me to use him as an example of what not to do. But what about me? How might I fall into the same trap of making excuses to justify sin?
Well, I could commit the sin of gluttony and then say, “I just couldn’t help myself. The buffet was endless, and everything tasted so good.”
I could commit the sin of gossip and say, “I’m only telling you these things as a matter of prayer.”
I could commit the sin of prayerlessness and say, “I don’t have time now. I’ll pray later.”
We can make excuses for just about anything, but Scripture tells us to stop. We’re hurting ourselves, and we’re grieving the Lord by our behaviour. Consider the psalmist’s prayer: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life” (Psalm 139:23,24 NLT).
Do we truly crave intimacy with God? Do we really want His blessing? Then let’s pray as the psalmist did and invite the Lord to examine our hearts and rid them of anything that doesn’t honor Him.