Excuses and explanations

The basis of Cane’s post A snowflake’s chance in hell is predicated on the human nature of how we justify things to ourselves.

Excuses, by their nature, are an attempt to justify your actions to yourself or others excluding your faults.

Explanation, however, talk solely about what or why something happened including admitting things that you may have done that affected the situation.

If you look to the Scriptures, you can see that Jesus — who lived a perfect life — never made one single excuse for anything He did. Of course, it is because He was perfect that He didn’t need to make any excuses. Excuses absolve any blame from yourself and thrust it onto someone else or your various circumstances.

On the other hand, often He provided His disciples with explanations of parables and why He made certain actions in particular.

One of the most difficult things to do is to understand when you’re making an excuse, and why you shouldn’t do it. For example, if you’re late to work and there was an accident holding up traffic it’s very easy to make an excuse: “Hey look boss, there was an accident which is why I was late.”

Why is this an excuse? It is because even though there is an action out of your circumstance that you control, you’re not admitting culpability for the wrong that you committed even inadvertantly. It’s no wonder that if you admit some type of fault for missing your job start time — even though it may not have been your fault — often the others will be more gracious towards you. Compare these two responses to your boss at being late:

  • Excuse: “Hey boss, there was an accident which is why I was late.”
  • Explanation: “Hey boss, I apologize for being late. There was an accident, but that’s no excuse for me as I should’ve prepared for that (or got on the road earlier).”

In which case is a boss likely going to be more gracious? The first one where the employee thrusts blame on things outside of his circumstances? Or the one where the employee is willing to take some of the blame even though it may have been outside of his circumstances?

Thrusting responsibility away from yourself is the first step to pride and self righteousness.

Christians often incorrectly think that because someone else may have sinned that they are absolved from their behavior. This is the furthest from the truth because it builds up within that Christian the walls of pride and self righteousness — “The other person is obviously wrong and I’m just letting them know how wrong they are so they can fix it. I don’t need to do anything about my own behavior because there was nothing wrong with it.”

This is not a Christ-like attitude, and it is devoid of both love and humility.

Simply put, to acknowledge truth is to acknowledge the whole truth. Excuses are excuses because they only acknowledge half of the truth — the other person’s potential fault. Explanations discuss the whole situation including your own faults.

A husband who says or even implies that a divorce, poor circumstances, and mistreatment talking solely about the other spouse will be seen as complaining or whining for good reason. It is because they are. When you only discuss half truths people almost instinctively know that they are being conned. You’re saying that you’re above it all and none of it was your fault. No one who has been in any type of relationship will believe that. There is always fault to go around even if it is 99.99% on one side and .01% on the other.

In reality, the reason why explanations come off better is because it shows that you are thinking about both your actions as well as another’s actions. You can see that there are things that both of you could have improved on in the situation. However, with excuses there is no self reflection but only pride and self righteousness, and no one likes people who think they are above everyone.

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9 Responses to Excuses and explanations

  1. Excellent points. Matthew 7:5-11 go well here, and support you.

    You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

    The sins of another do not excuse my sin, but rather remind me to re-examine myself for sin and purge what I find so that I may more effectively lift up my brother.

    Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

    Sometimes I am responsible for the consequences of others’ actions–did I cast pearls before swine? Did I abdicate the responsibilities that God gave to me?

    Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

    Excuses come from an attitude of powerlessness. One only seeks to excuse a condition he does not believe he can remedy, or does not want to remedy. Yet we have the assurance of God’s power, and he can remedy what we cannot. If we are excusing ourselves, we are not admitting our failures and seeking God’s power.

    One of the reasons I have a lot of respect for Cane is that he doesn’t take the cheap path of pretending that men are guiltless in the condition of the modern culture. Christian men abdicated their responsibilities of leadership, guidance, instruction, and protection to very people they were supposed to lead, guide, instruct, and protect—yet some of them act surprised that their pearls were trampled. The failure of women and children to guide themselves in the right way does not excuse the men who should have guided them, but rather makes the failure of those men more weighty and glaring.

  2. No one who has been in any type of relationship will believe that.

    Yes, women believe that in the majority, about themselves and the gaggle of giggles they hold dear

  3. @ empathologism

    Feral women yes. Unfortunately, there are a lot of those out in the world now. And many of them claim to be Christian.

  4. aquietmimic says:

    Your recent writings of how to live life in a Godly manner (with life examples)are brilliant, just blessed to read your writings, and pray your writings prosper and bear good fruit.

  5. Pingback: Pride | Reflections on Christianity and the manosphere

  6. @ aquietmimic


  7. @ Moose Norseman

    Thanks for writing up those verses. Not that digging around in the Scriptures is not fun, but I don’t do it sometimes to support the points I make.

  8. Patrick Pedat Ebediyah Golston says:


    When dealing with
    broken and prideful people (who tend to make lots of excuses), I try as
    much as I can, before approaching them, to check myself first.
     If not, they will attack you, and you will be tempted to
    respond – in like kind – and blow your witness.  Which I can
    assure you, I have
    blown, on many occasions, so…I think upon:

    Corinthians 13:5
    Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test
    yourselves. Do you not realize that Messiah is in you—unless,
    of course, you fail the test?

    For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he
    deceives himself.  But each one must examine his own
    work, and then he will have reason for boasting in
    regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.

    I have asked, “is
    there something I can do to make this better..”  or “…is
    there is something I have done, to bring out this response”..

    I have often felt like
    a sucker/beta/obsequeious person for taking that approach – INITIALLY – but then
    the Set-Apart Spirit comforts me in that He is pleased by my approach.

    What I shared with my friends and family today, as I pondered this
    post, was this:

    When we make excuses,
    justify our faults, and deflect criticism, we should not be surprised
    when people are unable to trust us.  We need to say:

    “I’m wrong and I
    repent.  I need to work on it.  I don’t blame you at
    all for your concern/lack of confidence/faith in my actions/attitude,
    and I give my word I’m going to make this right.”

    None of which is easy, of course..

  9. Patrick Pedat Ebediyah Golston says:

    Sorry for the substandard formatting…I obviously chose the wrong setting for my HTML editor…

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