For those about to take communion the Apostle Paul advises, “Let a man examine himself…”. And in another place, “If we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged”. We are further warned that at the judgement seat of Christ each of us will give an account of ourselves. It seems that there is no way to avoid the hard questions in life – either we face them now, or we will face them later. Asking ourselves some searching questions now though, affords us the chance to make changes while we still can.
But before this will work we need to first disable some common psychological mechanisms. The biggest one is rationalization. This is where we acknowledge that some aspect of our spiritual life is not up to par, but… [insert excuse here]. Most of us have an amazing ability to blunt the cutting edge of Holy Ghost conviction with a well-rehearsed reason why we are exempt from God’s will in this particular case.
“I’m too old.” “I’m too young.” “We can’t afford it.” “I’m too busy.” “You don’t understand…” “But it’s so hard…” We make excuses for everything.
But every time we do, we throw away our ability to change things for the better. And furthermore, we deny God the opportunity to turn our stumbling blocks into stepping stones! As they say, “Excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure.” The truth is that every one of God’s benefits is available to each and every one of us right now. We can have as many as we are willing to trade our excuses for. We have to decide – do I want good success? Or good excuses?
- You can make excuses for behaviours, but not for motives. Doing the wrong thing is generally excusable, but not when you do the wrong thing with an attitude of indifference, anger, jealousy, selfishness, and so on.
- You can make excuses for one-offs, but not for habits. People will forgive you once. Okay, twice. Maybe even three times. But beyond that your excuses are only accommodating a bad habit. Stop rationalizing and change already.
- You can make excuses for others, but not for yourself. This is called walking in love. Anything else is just petty, self-absorbed, and vindictive. Be generous with others, be hard on yourself.