Editor’s Note: I’m thankful to guest blogger Brandon Hershey for this week’s study of Ezekiel 18!
Do you ever make excuses to justify your behavior? We might make excuses to justify simple things in our lives like why we don’t eat better, or why we don’t exercise more, or why we speed, or maybe even why we don’t return our shopping carts at Walmart.
Recently, I saw a commercial on TV about all the excuses that golfers sometimes make for their poor shots. If you are a golfer, perhaps you are guilty of using some of these excuses:
Or maybe you’ve been telling yourself you want to get to the gym more and your excuses sound like the ones in this Nike commercial:
As a teacher, I often hear some good excuses as to why students didn’t turn in their homework or complete an assignment on time. Although I don’t hear the classic “the dog ate my homework” excuse, students continue to find creative excuses for not getting work done on time. For example, students who take our 10th grade honors class, are required to complete two assignments over the summer – one due in early July and the other due right before school starts. To be clear, we meet with all of the students before the school year ends, we explain the requirements of the assignments, and we set them up with all the resources that they need. Needless to say, usually a couple days before the first due date rolls around, my inbox starts filling up with desperate pleas for extensions. Over the years, I like to keep a file with all my favorite excuses. Here are four:
Hi Mr. Hershey, I am about halfway done with my essay and I was wondering if I could get a week extension due to our playoffs for baseball. We just found out our schedule yesterday.
Hi Mr. Hershey, Can I get an extension for my Inherit The Wind essay. I just got back from vacation and I need some more time. Can I have til the end of this week?
I can’t hand in any of my english assignments because the website has been down for me for a while. When I checked with a friend, the site was down for him as well.
I only found out now that the site was back up, but can’t find where to submit my assignment. Also, my school email is on the fritz and will not allow me to attach documents of any sort. Would it be all right if I submit my assignment tomorrow when I have the time to look for the submission area?
I’m sure that some of these students had legitimate reasons as to why they couldn’t get their assignments done on time, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating on my end as the teacher.
What is really happening when we make excuses? No matter how we spin it, excuses really just push responsibility away from ourselves and onto someone or something else in order to make ourselves feel better about our actions or our inaction.
While some excuses may not carry much consequence, what about the excuses we make for the sin in our lives? Maybe you have an addiction that you keep sweeping under the rug, telling yourself it’s not that bad. Maybe you have someone in your family that you know you need to forgive, but your hard heart won’t let you. Maybe you need to ask for forgiveness, but your pride prevents you from humbling yourself to admit you were wrong. Perhaps you know you need to spend more time with God through personal devotion or prayer but you justify yourself by comparing yourself to others, thinking that you are doing as well as the next guy. Maybe American consumerism prevents you from living the sacrificial life of a disciple of Jesus. Whatever the case, I’m confident that each of us can think of some sin in our lives that we are quick to excuse. I want each of us to consider what excuses we make that keep us from growing closer to Jesus.
As we continue through Ezekiel in chapter 18, we see that the exiles in Babylon were making some excuses of their own. Chapter 18 is basically God’s reaction to their excuse. From this reaction, we see God’s perfect justice expressed in His serious attitude towards the consequences of sin, we see God’s perfect love expressed in his heart for the oppressed, and most importantly we see God’s passionate desire for repentance expressed in his plea for the exiles to turn from their sinful ways.
We’ll get started studying Ezekiel 18 in the next post!