Excuse. Sounds like a reasonable word. Acceptable. Perhaps even respectable. The word “excuse” describes a plea or request to be released from a promise or obligation or an appeal for forgiveness for failing to meet an agreement. So an excuse is something I offer when I’m not doing what I should be doing, failing to keep a promise, or as part of an apology for not doing what I said I would do. Excuses sound fine to a rationalizing mind but under the harsh light of the truth, they look pretty weak and ugly.
How many excuses do you generate in a day and for what?
Do you make excuses at school for why you didn’t have an assigment or do well on a test?
Do you make excuses to the coach or teacher for why you didn’t give 100% or perform well?
Do you make excuses to your parents for why you didn’t do your chores?
Do you make excuses to God for why you can’t study your Bible or spend time with Him in prayer?
Do you make excuses to yourself for why you didn’t stay on the exercise program, diet, or daily practice?
See, we even make excuses to ourselves…AND BELIEVE THEM! The better approach is just to admit that we gave up, didn’t give our best, got distracted, or whatever, then apologize and fulfill our commitment.
If we continue to offer excuses people will learn not to trust us. If we keep giving ourselves excuses, we limit and cripple ourselves and will eventually expect less of ourselves. As Benjamin Franklin said, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”
5 Ways to Eliminate excuses
Don’t make promises you don’t intend to keep. You have a right to refuse anyone’s request for a favor and still be a good person. Recognize that the person might be disappointed but they would rather get an honest “no” from you and find someone else to fulfill their request than to get a “yes” then endure the frustration when you don’t keep your word. Jesus said to let your “yes” be “yes” and “no” be “no” and that anything beyond that was evil, Matthew 5:37.
Keep your commitments and promises. It is good to make good promises and some commitments. If you have given your word, make haste to fulfill the obligation. You will preserve your integrity and the trust of others. Keeping your commitments strengthens the “no” that you must give for people learn that they can depend on your “yes” and “no”. As Elbert Hubbard, American writer, said, “Don’t make excuses–make good.”
Eat the toad. Excuses often follow procrastination. You agree to something, put it off telling yourself that you will get around to the task (excuse to yourself), then finally abandon the task and generate an excuse. If you absolutely had to eat a live toad every day when should you do it? First thing in the morning of course! You do it, get it out of the way, and you don’t have to dread it, put it off, brood over it, or kick yourself for not doing it. Don’t make an excuse–eat the toad, get it over with, and go on with your life.
Embrace a “no excuses” policy. I used to keep a sign with what I understand is the motto of the British Foreign Office: “Never excuse. Never explain. Never complain.” If you are doing what you supposed to be doing, you should not have to explain or excuse your actions. If you commit to not giving excuses you have to commit to keeping your word. Remember that excuses weakens, execution strengthens.
Practice at home. Decide that you will not offer any more excuses to your parents or God. You will “obey them in the Lord for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1). Strive for completion of your promises and obligations.If you fail, give them a straightforward apology and ask what you can do to correct the situation: no excuses or reasons for failure then strive to do better in the future. Don’t offer God lame excuses for not praying, studying, or doing other work in service to Him. Admit your failures, ask His forgiveness, then make specific plans for how you can fulfill these expectations (which ultimately are for your good anyway!)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8 (ESV)
My mother used to quote this to me when I was watching a music video or movie that had material that was not appropriate to remind me that I was poisoning, not nourishing, my mind. Do not let your mind wallow in filthiness. Let your thoughts soar above to heavenly things.
True: Manifest, fact, conforming to reality Opposite: False
Action follows thought. If we want to act like Christ we must think like Christ. Consider these verses:
2 Corinthians 10:5 – We must bring every thought under control
Mark 7:20-23 – The heart of a man is the source of his actions
Romans 1:21-22 – Terrible abominations are rooted in evil and futile thoughts
Colossians 3:1-3 – Set your mind on things above
The worldly mind dwells on empty, meaningless, and demeaning thoughts. Abominations, evil inventions, and cruelty (even in the name of religion), or indifference to others is the common result. The worldly mind focuses on the present world and fulfilling lusts. This mind is trained by the philosophy of the world through television, movies, songs, books, and through popular opinion.
The mind of Christ is taught by the word of God. We consciously decide to think like Christ so that the natural state of the changed mind dwells on godly things and makes judgments in light of Christ’s doctrine. It is a mind that seeks to develop a relationship with the Father, live pure and holy, and esteem others better than self.
In contrast to the chaos of the mind, it is a mind at peace. Instead of being selfish it serves. It is not directed by the whims of passion but by purposeful direction and discipline. It takes a while to develop this mind but the effects on the attitude and behavior of the transformed Christian are worth it.
After we transform our minds, our actions must change. Jesus taught that a man’s heart dictates his actions. If our heart is right, right actions will follow. A godly life is the natural result of a mind cleansed by God and consecrated to Him.
When we set our minds on things above our actions will change. Colossians 3:5-17 describes this transformation:
Holiness, tender mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering, bearing with one another, forgiving, love
This is the old man, made in the image of the world.
This is the new man, made in the image of the Creator.
As Paul illustrates, the new man acts differently towards his fellow man. He seeks to build other people up, not destroy them. He speaks good, not evil. He is longsuffering, not impatient. Our actions towards other people change because our attitude towards them has changed. God commands us to serve others as part of our service to Him. We must transform from a self-seeking, self-centered being into a selfless servant, like Jesus, seeking to serve rather than be served.
What is the goal of the transformation of mind and actions? Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:18: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” We are looking into a mirror and we see ourselves transforming into Christ. As we look, more of our old man, our old life, fades away and the image of Jesus reflected back to us becomes clearer. We are becoming more like Jesus so that when we see ourselves, we truly see Jesus in thought and action in our lives.
In the next chapter, 2 Corinthians 4:11, Paul continued this thought: “For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” Paul clearly stated this goal: the life of Jesus must be manifested in our lives. Earlier, he compares it to treasure, like gold or jewels, in earthen pottery because “the power may be of God and not of us.” We are constantly trying to live like Jesus but we realize that we will not have complete perfection on this earth.
Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” We crucify the old man of sin, bury him at baptism (Romans 6:4-6) and are raised to live a new life—Christ living in us. It is a life of faith, founded on the word of God (Romans 10:17). This demands that we study what Christ did and emulate Him.