October 16, 2017
Would you believe that there are actually web sites that provide “…Excuses you can use when you need a day off and don’t have a good excuse for missing work.” One website says, “If you are concerned about using the I need a ‘sick day”’ excuse too many times and want to be creative, try some of these work excuses that might work when you need a reason to take time off from your job. Some of the suggestions include: an appointment with a lawyer, your child has to get a physical, having a colonoscopy (nobody would question that), having a major appliance delivered to your house, an unspecified family emergency, and a death in the family (note says make sure you haven’t used this one before for the same relative). There is also a caution about using social media on your “sick day” that might indicate that perhaps your excuse for missing work wasn’t truthful and which your boss might access.
While we chuckle at the thought of the creativity needed to build a case for missing work, this practice is actually very real, and is indicative of our culture’s attitude toward personal accountability and responsibility. It seems that many people today, rather than take responsibility for their actions, divert attention from their own short comings by making excuses, lying, or shifting the blame to others. There seems to be a pass given for bad behavior, lying, or misrepresenting the truth if “no one was hurt by what I said or did.” I believe that the Bible has a lot to say about personal responsibility and accountability. In fact, assuming responsibility for one’s attitudes and behavior is a core principle found in God’s Word.
In science, Newton’s third law of physics states, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” In our personal lives we experience a similar principle, that for every action there is a consequence. It is the consequences for poor choices and bad decisions that we try to avoid, and why our students offer excuses for their poor choices and behavior. As we grow and mature we come to realize that we cannot avoid the consequences of our choices, or successfully shift the blame to others. The first man and woman, Adam and Eve, attempted to avoid the responsibility for disobeying God’s command in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 3:12–13, “Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate. And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done? The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Another figure in scripture who sought to deflect responsibility for his actions was Pontius Pilate. Matthew 27:24, “When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.” Unfortunately, the failure to accept responsibility for poor choices and behavior does not depend on age and maturity, it is a lifelong struggle of the human condition.
The spiritual application to this condition is that each and every one of us is responsible for our own actions and sins. Even if we try to laugh our actions and speech off as a little white lie that doesn’t hurt anyone or try and shift the blame to others for our own shortcomings and sins, God sees us as just the way we are. We cannot fool Him with our excuses, and someday every person will stand before Him to give an answer for their choices in life. The Good News of God’s Word is that when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, we are justified through faith. In other words, as it relates to our sin, God views us as having no sin at all. Because of this unmerited favor, our accountability then is to serve the One who loved us enough to pay the price for our sins on the cross. In turn, that which comes out of our life should reflect the God we serve. On the other hand, for those who choose to try and justify themselves through their own self-righteousness, also known as good works, their words will prove to be no better than the student who comes to class only with excuses or the employee caught in a “tale of the sick day” deception.
Even though believers are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, they will still answer for the actions, words, and thoughts that they had during their lives. II Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” Believers are all accountable for what they say and do, because we are all ultimately accountable to God, and we should always remember to act accordingly.
We are also accountable to each other as fellow believers. The Bible teaches us to encourage, pray for, and correct each another. This is a concept missing in many of our Christian lives, which is why it is extremely important to have other people in our lives, who care for us enough to hold us accountable for our actions. We should also remember to be accountable to ourselves, holding ourselves responsible for our thoughts and actions, and for the results of our own actions, instead of making excuses and blaming others. As a believer, it is the responsible thing to do before Holy God, who knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts anyway.