Extenuating Circumstances, But Not Excuses

I don’t know your background and you don’t know mine. We may think we do, but do any of us really know what makes the other one tick. What I do know that in most of our lives we can probably look back at things that happened or that were a part of our past that led us to certain struggles we have. Some win the struggle and others do not. No one is exempt from them. You could easily excuse your sins on something or someone, just as I could. There have been times in the past when I have done just that. Hurting from the consequences of my sins, I lashed out at something that I felt “caused” me to do what I did. All that did, was drive me further from God. I had to come to myself before I could come to the Father. Let me give you some idea of the kinds of extenuating circumstances people could have.

–Personalities can be an extenuating circumstance.
–Family issues can be an extenuating circumstance.
–Trauma can be an extenuating circumstance.
–Health issues can be an extenuating circumstance.
–Past experiences can be an extenuating circumstance.
–Emotional or mental struggles can be an extenuating circumstance.
–Abuse can be an extenuating circumstance.

There are many others. None of us are immune to them. Whenever we face a failure in our lives, it seems as though Satan really brings them to mind and soon we are using them as an excuse.

1. Know your extenuating circumstances. Face them honestly. If there have been extenuating circumstances in your life, admit to what they are. The sooner you face them the better you will be. If you were abused don’t pretend it didn’t happen. Deal with it.

2. Make peace with your extenuating circumstances. See it as something God allowed for His purpose. Part of making peace with your extenuating circumstances is making peace with anyone who was a part of it.

3. Don’t blame anyone, including God for your extenuating circumstances. Forgive them. You MUST forgive to gain the victory. There is never victory in blame.

4. Ask God for victory over or perhaps in your extenuating circumstances. Deal with it. Whether the extending circumstances were things in the past or whether they are things you are dealing with today, you must ask God for victory over them.

5. NEVER use your extenuating circumstances as an excuse for your choices. You could have chosen differently. Others with the same extenuating circumstances have made the right choices. One man’s alcoholic father was used an excuse, but my dad’s alcoholic father was his inspiration to do more for God.

6. Use those extenuating circumstances and your reactions as a way to help others. Perhaps, God allowed these things into your life so that you could one-day minister to others. Not only use the situation but use your reaction as well to teach other people who are facing the same thing.

7. Always know that others who sin also had extenuating circumstances. Be patient with them. It is easy to use our own extenuating circumstances as an excuse, yet not allow others the same mercy and grace we wish for ourselves.

8. Become strong in that area of weakness or strengthen other areas to help compensate for the extenuating circumstances you cannot change or fix. If your extenuating circumstances brought about a weakness in your life, seek God’s help in strengthening that area of your life.

9. Never forget your advantages. We all have it better than others in some area of our lives. Be grateful for the good extenuating circumstances in your life. Do not merely focus on the bad ones.

10. Never assume you would have made different choices without your extenuating circumstances. It was my character flaws that made me react the way I did, not my extenuating circumstances. I must take responsibility for that fact.

For many years Esau was a victim of his extenuating circumstances. Imagine how he felt and the hurt that was within him. It took him many years to overcome those extenuating circumstances, but eventually he did and God blessed him. He was treated unfairly. He was cheated of what was his. He was unloved by his mother. All of those were legitimate reasons for why he became bitter, but excuses never fix the problem. They usually only delay it. May I challenge all of us to admit that we all have a past and that past plays a part in molding us. It may be that your past led to inherent struggles, but don’t make excuses. Let God use it for His glory. (DH)