Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right. Proverbs 20:11 (NIV)
When I was a child, a song based on this verse was one of my favorites. Over 40 years later, I can still sing it, “Even a child is known by his doings, even a child can be faithful and true. Even a child can tell others of Jesus. Even a child, like me, like you.” As a girl, even though it wasn’t easy, I was taught to take responsibility for my own actions. I can remember clearly the first time I consciously lied to create an excuse for a mistake. I was in Fifth Grade and am sure even 12 year olds saw through my story. I immediately felt guilty. Still today, I am reminded of that reaction when I am tempted to cover up my actions with a lie. In our culture, it is not uncommon for both children and adults to defend our behavior. Some reasons can be valid, but it is unusual to accept responsibility for our mistakes. Instead, we use excuses to cover up our failings. At History Fair time, we hear a great many explanations. There is always a reason why an entry form is not turned in on time, why a project is delivered late, or why a student cannot make a performance schedule. Many of those justifications are made not by the child, but by their parent. Johnny didn’t turn his entry form in four weeks ago when it was due because was upset that week. So, why didn’t Johnny turn it in the next week when he was okay? The most common excuse is to blame it on the teacher. The teacher did not tell us we had to do it; the teacher did not remind us to come. When three students in a row blamed their teacher for forgetting required paperwork, the History Fair judges began to get angry, not at the students, but at the teacher! One group of students did not complete their documentary, but did show up at their judging time to explain why it was late. That was courteous of them, but they never did admit blame. All their excuses were someone else’s fault. I once heard that America is the only country that teaches our children to pass the buck and fails to require them to stand up and say, “I am sorry.” I was getting myself all worked up into a lather about it until I realized that I am guilty of the same kind of thing. Didn’t I just yesterday give my child a note asking that he be excused from school when in fact, I knew that he had skipped just because he wanted to stay home? Not only is it time for me to require that those around me stand up for truth and accept responsibility for their actions, but it is important for me to do the same. “I was wrong.” Both my actions and my willingness to be accountable for them, indicate that my conduct is pure and right.