5 Then, at the evening sacrifice, I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the Lord my God 6 and prayed:
“I am too ashamed and disgraced, my God, to lift up my face to you, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens. 7 From the days of our ancestors until now, our guilt has been great. Because of our sins, we and our kings and our priests have been subjected to the sword and captivity, to pillage and humiliation at the hand of foreign kings, as it is today.
More than ever before we live in a society of excuses and passing buck. We could say that Adam and Eve started it. Aaron stands in a long list of those who perpetuated it. It can’t be my fault because someone else told me . . .
I recently tried to get someone off the hook with his sister. He had missed more than one family event and no one in the family had seen him for a while. I knew he’d been strongly influenced by his wife, so I tried to give him an out. His hurt sister knew the truth–he’s a big boy; if he wanted to be here, he would.
Ezra on the other hand took responsibility for his own sin as well as the sin of his countrymen. He pulled out his hair and tore his clothing when the magnitude of the sin came to his attention. Then he prayed a sincere prayer of repentance.
Do we take responsibility for our sins like Ezra? Or do we try to make excuses? We can always find a reason for our mishaps and mistakes. Do those reasons make a good defense or should we simply say, “Yes, I did it. It was me. I’m tremendously sorry.”?
Typically, we make an excuse because we don’t like to let people down. We want them to think well of us, so an excuse for being late seems better than fessing up that we didn’t make leaving home on time a priority. And most of us don’t like to get in trouble, so we assume an excuse will get us off the hook. “I have an emergency, officer, that’s why I was speeding.” “My sister spilled juice on my homework.” “I wanted to meet you, but . . .”
Unfortunately, the excuse perpetuates the sin. Until we own it, we’ll never recover from it. We’ll just keep repeating the mistake until our excuses sound like a broken record.
Taking responsibility for our actions allows us to begin the delivery process. It gives God room to work. If an entire group takes ownership of the problems in the organization, the organization can prosper. And when we begin to realize that even if we didn’t commit the sin, when we say nothing, we feed the sin, we can take ownership of problems in the nation and begin the repentance process there too.
This world needs more Ezras–men and women who will admit their mistakes and repent. Repentance brings healing, and spiritual healing brings blessings. In a world full of excuses, be an Ezra