“THE woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree and so I ate,” said the man. “The serpent—it deceived me and so I ate,” responded the woman. Those words, spoken to God by our first human parents, Adam and Eve, marked the beginning of mankind’s long history of making excuses.—Gen. 3:12, 13.
Jehovah’s judgment upon Adam and Eve for their willful disobedience made it apparent that their excuses were not acceptable to him. (Gen. 3:16-19) Are we to conclude, then, that all excuses are unacceptable to Jehovah? Or does he accept some excuses as valid? If so, how can we determine the difference? To answer, let us first consider the definition of an excuse.
An excuse is a reason given in order to explain why something has been done, has not been done, or will not be done. An excuse may be a valid explanation for a failing and may constitute a genuine apology that provides grounds for leniency or forgiveness. However, as was true in the case of Adam and Eve, an excuse may also be a pretext, a false reason put forth to cloak the real one. Since excuses are often of that nature, they are commonly viewed with suspicion.
When making excuses—especially if they relate to our service to God—we must be careful to avoid ‘deceiving ourselves with false reasoning.’ (Jas. 1:22) Let us, therefore, consider some Bible examples and principles that will help us to “keep on making sure of what is acceptable to the Lord.”—Eph. 5:10.