“Make the most of every opportunity” Ephesians 5:16 says.
“Always be ready to give the reason for your hope” 1 Peter 3:15 exhorts.
When you think of having an opportunity to witness to others concerning the Lord, you probably think of sharing with someone when they’re down, or of praising the Lord when things are good or bad.
Even in our mistakes, we have an opportunity to testify to His character and to demonstrate repentance and the acceptance of His grace and forgiveness.
Scripture is clear: those who glorify God don’t make excuses when they make mistakes. That’s because:
1. Excuses can be a form of pride
In 2 Corinthians 11 and 12, Paul describes his sufferings and his work in the Lord. It’s in 2 Corinthians 12:7 that he shares the well-known words that God spoke to him
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Imagine if Paul used excuses for His weakness instead of pointing to the Lord’s sufficiency. Suddenly Paul’s life would have been about him – what he tried to do, the ways his circumstances inhibited him. He wouldn’t be boasting in the Lord, he’d be boasting about relying on Himself.
Boasting about mistakes may sound absurd, but we all do it. We just shift the blame to make ourselves out to be more resilient, or to be martyrs. That’s prideful. And it encourages us not to stand up before the Lord in confidence and surrender to Him, but to choose to muddle through our trials as if we’re saintly for doing so.
2. Excuses can set aside the grace of God
At the same time, when we rely on excuses, we “set aside the grace of God” (Galatians 2:21). Paul describes being made new in Christ, dying to self that He might live through us. That means relying on Christ for righteousness, and not our works or our own attempts at justification.
There is no more “I tried not to sin but this and this made me”, or “I’m sorry but look, I did this well and I’m going to do better.” There is only repentance, the Lord’s forgiveness, and living in that grace.
In choosing not to justify yourself but to admit you are a sinner and to turn to Christ, you can go confidently before the Lord and before men, proclaiming the righteousness of Christ alone and the hope we have in Him.
3. Excuses can withhold glory from God
“Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story” Psalm 107:2 proclaims.
Then stories of the redeemed are told: boldly, honestly, and all structured to praise the Lord for His works, not to qualify the worth of the men He saved.
The glory due to the Lord (all glory) does not leave room for the glorification of man’s attempts at earning righteousness. That means that when we tell our stories as a part of the Lord’s story, He’s the protagonist. We’re the saved, not the worthy. No matter what excuses we have for our unworthiness.