I Didn’t Mean To.”


You have probably heard it said, "That was an accident. I didn't mean to do it."  This is a defense that felons might actually believe themselves. For example, if someone was injured or killed in the commission of their crime, they may offer that excuse, but weren’t they aware something like that could happen beforehand?  You may also hear …

  • I didn't do it on purpose.
  • I wasn't trying to …
  • It was a mistake.
  • Oops! That wasn't supposed to happen.
  • I only meant to ...
  • I didn’t know that would upset you.
  • It just slipped out.
  • That's not what I meant.
  • I didn't plan it that way.

But how is that possible? If we didn’t mean what we said, or didn't mean what we did, why did we do it? And then why make up such a ridiculous excuse?  I believe that excuse is offered because it turns the table on the accuser.  Now you look like the bad guy if you don't say, "Oh, that's all right.  I understand."  It's actually another way to grab a position of power in a potentially explosive situation.

Criminals aren’t the only ones who fall back on this excuse. Let's say that a man made an extramarital sexual connection on his business trip. If his spouse finds out, the first thing you might hear him say is: “Oh honey, it didn’t mean anything.  It was just sex.” That excuse is supposed to take all of the bite out of his spouse’s righteous anger, and get her to calm down.  Or, imagine he got drunk and said some abusive things to her.  Later he apologized saying, “I was just drunk, baby. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.” Or, he got really angry, blew his stack and later said, “I was just mad, sweetheart.  I didn’t mean any of it.”  Such a lame excuse actually makes it worse.

Bottom line? We say what we mean, mean what we say, and we intended to do what we did. We might try to imply certain actions or words were unintentional, but the Bible says they are always intentional.  Proverbs 23:7 says, "As a man is in his heart, so is he."  Whether in town or out, whether sober or drunk, whether angry or not - what is really in our hearts is what will show up in our words and actions.

1. Will making excuses for our sins ever work with God?  Proverbs 21:2 says that we may deceive ourselves with our excuses, to justify remaining in sin and committing more sins.  But God looks beyond the excuses and sees the very root of our sins, our

2. What could help you determine if the excuse given is the truth or a lie? (Luke 6:43-48)

3. Read Luke 14:16-20. Just like today, to not attend a banquet when one had previously accepted was a grave breach of social etiquette and an insult to the host. The host had planned the banquet based on the number of guests invited.  Once the RSVPs were in, and the host had determined how many guests would be there, he had known exactly how many animals should be killed and cooked. 
  a) What were the excuses people gave for not attending the banquet?
  b) Likewise, people offer excuses today for not accepting Jesus’ invitation to be saved. If Christianity is so true and so good, why don’t more embrace it? Why give excuses instead of accepting Jesus' invitation?  (Thought question)

4. Sometimes when we do something wrong, we claim ignorance.  We might say, “But officer, I didn’t see that stop sign!”  Another common line of defense points to our intentions: "But I didn't mean to hurt your feelings." In fact, the lack of intention excuse is usually combined with a profession of ignorance. "I didn't mean to hurt your feelings. I didn't know you'd be upset if I did that." 

Leviticus 4 takes into account the likelihood that people will do things that are wrong without knowing it or without meaning to do wrong.

  a) What if the priest sins unintentionally through ignorance?
    (vs. 2-3)
  b) What if the entire congregation sins unintentionally?
    (vs. 13-14)
  c) In the verses above, we see that even inadvertent, unwitting sin defiles us. What if we continue sinning after we have learned the truth?
    (Hebrews 10:26)

5. What about God?  Does He ever look down from heaven and say, “Oops!  I didn’t mean for that to happen”?
  a) Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God has plans for us.  Describe His plans.
  b) But not everything that happens is God’s will or plan for our life. For example, it is not God's will that
    (2 Peter 3:9),

but some have in the past and certainly more will in the future.

  c) Why do bad things happen to good people?
    i) First of all, we need to be clear - there are no “good” people.
The Bible makes it abundantly clear that all of us are tainted by and infected with
      . (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8; Romans 3:10-18)
      Not only that, we also have a free will and this will cause problems, not only for ourselves but also for those around us.
    ii) After we become believers, we may bring fewer problems down on ourselves, but Jesus clearly warned us,
      (John 16:33)
      But for those who love God,
    ii) (Romans 8:28)
  d) The whole story of Ruth, from her husband and father-in-law dying and her staying with her mother-in-law Naomi, seemed to be an account of one disaster after another - until she went to the field and met and married Boaz. 

How did all this work together for good in God's plans? (Matthew 1:5-6)

  e) Consider this account in Acts 28.  First, Paul was on a ship for Rome that sank in a storm off Malta. Next Paul got bitten by a viper. Then, the father of the ruler of the island got sick while they were there and Paul was able to heal him. How did all this work together for good?

6. How would you counsel the person who habitually falls back on the excuse, “I didn’t mean to”?

Continue to Chapter 24

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