The Difference Between Excuses and Explanations


Being excused removes culpability; offering an excuse isn’t the same thing. If my gale-force sneeze catches you directly between the eyes, you may excuse (forgive) me if I was totally caught off guard. I’m guilty as a cat caught with a parakeet feather between her teeth, but I’m far more embarrassed than you are annoyed.

What if you’re the victim of a full-frontal sneeze attack when I had plenty of warning, could have stifled myself, or directed it elsewhere? You’re still figuring out what hit you when I offer this little ditty, “Oh, sorry, you must have a cat. I’m allergic.”

Explanations offers reasons, which may or may not prove exculpatory. But who gets to judge?

The reason you did what you did determines how others respond to you. When I injure someone, the reason for my behavior dictates whether the person seeks restitution or offers forgiveness and a warm hug. My goal is to deserve the hug.

Alibis are not Excuses

An alibi never means, “it’s not my fault.” It means I didn’t do what I’m accused of. It wasn’t me. An alibi doesn’t insist that “I’m not guilty,” but “I wasn’t involved.” Even then, it’s never wrong to say “I’m sorry for your experience” – because you are. Who wishes ill on anyone else?

We are all manufacturers – some make good, others make trouble, and still others make excuses.


Society Equates Excuses and Explanations

Society conflates excuses and explanations. Popular culture insists that if I can explain something then I am excused – unless you’re in the wrong socio-racial-ethnic-economic group. Then it gets even more confusing.

One of the most beautiful things about God the Father is His absolute indifference to personal characteristics and affiliations. All He cares about is who you are in relationship to Him, nothing more or less. How refreshing Heaven will be!

The most popular excuse offered today is, “It’s not my fault. I was victimized.” The most ridiculous, but considered in some academic circles as legitimate and righteous, is the excuse that, “Yes, I broke the law, but it’s a rotten law, so therefore I was the victim of bad legislation.”

Excuses for Sin

Do you imagine Adam and Eve believed for even a second that they were victims of bad law once they realized what they’d done? They were deceived. That was the explanation and their excuse, but God wasn’t fooled.

Wrong-doing is the result of wrong-being. Wrong-being is a result of sin.

Situations do not cause people to sin; we choose to sin. Not only that, God calls us to fight sin no matter the cause. The call to kill sin remains just as much in force when we are tired as when we are awake and chipper.

Don Straka

The bad habits of horses, like many people, are the result of poor training or bad handling. That doesn’t excuse them. I understand the cause of perspiration and pungent body aroma, but that doesn’t excuse me or anyone else from taking a shower.

Neon Signs of Guilt

Self-justification and blame-shifting are neon signs of guilt. Explanations may mitigate consequences, but not necessarily. Human nature explains sin. It certainly doesn’t excuse it.

Sincere Apology

What is the correct response to injury, error, or sin? An abject apology, without one “but” or “because.” Forgiveness is a gift, not a right. Deserve it by correcting what you can and never doing the same thing again.

Recommended post from The MuseHow to Provide Effective Explanations That Don’t Sound Like “It’s not my fault” Excuses

Another recommended post from Don Straka, Desiring GodDo You Excuse Your Own Sin?

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Lynn Baber

Lynn Baber

Lynn is a best-selling Christian author encouraging and equipping the people of Christ to live in peace, power, and purpose using simple gospel principles.

Lynn Baber

Lynn Baber

Lynn is a best-selling Christian author encouraging and equipping the people of Christ to live in peace, power, and purpose using simple gospel principles.

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