“No Excuse, Sergeant!”

Partly in an attempt to get inside my lieutenant baby brother’s psyche, my husband and are watching “Surviving West Point”. New cadets are only allowed four responses when speaking to a superior officer: “Yes, Sergeant!”, “No, Sergeant!”, “No excuse, Sergeant!” and “Sergeant, I do not understand!”

Starting on their first day at the academy, cadets must respond, “No excuse!” when they are found doing anything, deliberate or accidental, against the rules, written or unwritten. There is no excuse for doing something wrong. And punishments range from push-ups to expulsion.

I realized while watching the film that when confessing my sin, I so often come with excuses: I was tired; it was the millionth time I’d dealt with the kids that day; I don’t have my mother in town to help me; I didn’t know better; I’m not that advanced in sanctification; fasting makes me cranky; I’m busy – the list goes on and on.

But in the Christian life, there are no excuses. Every sin we commit happens because of our own sinfulness, coldness, ignorance – and we have no excuse. But unlike the cadets at West Point, we do have someone to take our punishment: we receive the Heaven we don’t deserve because Christ took the Hell that we do. He also gives us all the grace we need to live each day that He ordains for us. There’s no excuse. “The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; they are established forever and ever, to be performed with afaithfulness and uprightness. He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name!” (Psalm 111:7-8)