What’s Your Excuse?

by Nan Corbitt Allen

“My dog ate my homework.” The well-worn classic grade school excuse.

This present student generation has a new take on that: “My computer crashed and it didn’t save my paper.” (I’ve heard that one a lot from teaching college students.)

Here are a couple of the excuses I hear when someone tries to explain why they didn’t return my call, my email, or my text in a timely manner.

“I’m up to my elbows in alligators.”  “It’s been a zoo around here.”

The latest, of course, is: “…because of COVID…” Though this virus is awfully real and serious—it has gotten on the list of excuses. We blame it sometimes for our idleness, our anxiety, or our anger.

Excuses showed up early in the history of mankind.

In the Garden of Eden, just three chapters into the Bible, man and woman sinned. It’s a good story and explains the Great Fall, but look at Adam and Eve’s response when God asks them to explain their behavior:

“The man said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me some of the fruit of the tree, and I ate.’  Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ And the woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’” (Genesis 3:12-13 NASB emphasis mine) Accuse God, accuse the wife, accuse the Deceiver, and somehow it exonerates the sinner. Psychologists might call it transference. Simply put, it’s blaming someone else for our failures and our sins.

“Pass the buck.”  

This is a phrase that originated in the early American frontier when poker players put a marker (sometimes a buck-handled knife) in front of the dealer. If the marker was passed to a player who didn’t want to accept that responsibility of dealing, he’d pass it to the next player. Passing the buck.

Thirty-third American President Harry Truman, had a sign on his desk that read “The buck stops here.” This meant that he would accept all responsibility for decisions he made and for those made under his administration. This is the whole point of this article—encouraging us all to take full responsibility for our actions, no matter who has hurt us or mislead us.

Only Jesus could take our past sins upon Himself and absolve us from them. However, we’ve got to admit to our weaknesses, short comings, or sins in order for that to happen. “He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21 HCSB).

Lucy was four years old when she raided the candy jar that her mother had so carefully hidden. When the mother found out that her daughter had done this, she asked Lucy to confess. When the child was hesitant to admit to the crime, the mom said, “Did someone else in this house eat all of the candy?” Lucy looked around, shrugged, and then sighed, “No, but right now I just wish I had a little brother.”

Homework-consuming dogs, alligators, serpents, or little brothers should not be used as excuses…. “For every person will have to bear… his own burden [of faults and shortcomings] for which he alone is responsible” (Galatians 6:5 AMP).

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

Nan Corbitt Allen

About the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 45+ years. A three-time Dove Award winner, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed around the world. Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books. Nan and Dennis retired in 2020 from full time teaching at Truett McConnell University. They now live south of Nashville. They have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.

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Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the great impact seemingly insignificant, routine experiences can have in our lives. She describes what she learned of God’s providence and wisdom while growing up in the Deep South in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Join the conversation: Are there other stories in the Bible showing our human tendency to blame others for our mistakes?


2 thoughts on “What’s Your Excuse?

  1. Great article, Nan! And thanks for informing me about the origin of “Pass the buck.”
    You made a serious topic interesting. Blessings, Fran


  2. How wonderful that “the buck” can stop at Jesus on the cross! Nothing else needs to be done and I can confess my sins and know Satan can no longer accuse me. Glory to God in the highest!


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