Remedies for Excuse-Making

Perhaps because we, as Christians, speak of it so frequently, we tend to forget what an unspeakable privilege it is to be able to ask God’s forgiveness—and to have confidence that we will receive that for which we ask! C.S. Lewis reminds us to avail ourselves of this privilege properly. From The Weight of Glory:

“I find that when I think I am asking God to forgive me I am often in reality…asking Him to do something quite different. I am asking Him not to forgive me but to excuse me. But there is all the difference in the world between forgiving and excusing. Forgiveness says, ‘Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology; I will never hold it against you and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before.’ But excusing says, ‘I see that you couldn’t help it or didn’t mean it; you weren’t really to blame.’ …The trouble is that what we call ‘asking God’s forgiveness’ very often really consists in asking God to accept our excuses. …There are two remedies for this danger. One is to remember that God knows all the real excuses very much better than we do. If there are real ‘extenuating circumstances,’ there is no fear that He will overlook them. …The second remedy is really and truly to believe in the forgiveness of sins. A great deal of our anxiety to make excuses comes from not really believing in [God’s forgiveness]. Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse…and seeing it in all its horror, dirt, meanness, and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the man who has done it. That, and only that, is forgiveness, and that we can always have from God if we ask for it.”

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One thought on “Remedies for Excuse-Making”

  1. Brilliant. I loved that book. I read it a number of years ago, though. I think I will have to dust it off and read it again!

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