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.