Good News of the Kingdom of God

What Is Your Excuse?

lambs feeding02This week I happened to write an excuse letter for my son.  He was supposed to take up his mid-term exam but it was scheduled on a Sabbath, and so he needed to be excused, and was fairly granted.

 While on it, this also led me into thinking about the concept of “excuses” that sometimes people make or do. As we all know, an excuse can be valid only if it is sensible and the purpose reasonable. But even this, can also be abused.

Do you have an excuse?

By definition, an excuse is “to make allowance for a shortcoming; to overlook; to serve as justification for; to vindicate.” (Webster's)

According to one observation, no group of people has heard more excuses than teachers. And this can also be true to all types of teachers.  Imagine yourself to be a teacher, after having painstakingly prepared a lesson for your class, perhaps you’ve missed some sleep, but when you go to school most of the students are absent--especially those that need your lesson very badly. You cannot help but feel some frustration, then pity for the class. 

A search-based study suggested that there are five (5) commonly-used excuses people make every day for not going to work, school, or for an appointment:

  1. “It’s my birthday!” or other related “birthdays” excuse--children, parents, pets, neighbors.
  2. “It was raining, I cannot go out.”
  3. “I have my period (or cramps).”
  4. “I have fever (or I am sick).”
  5. “I am on a vacation.”

While these excuses can be valid reasons, one cannot help but also notice the abuses some will make on these excuses—it’s almost becoming a cliché. From personal observation, it is very interesting to note that those people using such excuses are the same persons who excuse themselves most of the time (all over again).

But what’s wrong with “excuses”?

An excuse is only reasonable and believable, something that you can relate with, if it is done rarely, in good faith—and in unforeseen circumstances.  But if an excuse is becoming a common thing, rather than the exception, then one can sense that something must be wrong (“abuses”).

Not surprisingly, the Bible also has taken note of many excuses people used for all the wrong reasons. Do you know how excuses started? Fact is, excuses began with the first sin ever committed. The book of Genesis first recorded thus:

“And He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?’

12 Then the man said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.’

13 And the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Genesis 3:11-13

This was followed by Cain with his famous excuse line, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4: 9). Abraham was no exception, he once used the “sister” excuse for fear of the Egyptians (Gen.12:13). And so with Jacob with his “bowl of soup”, and “hairy skin” (Gen.25:34; 27:23), and his children also did to him as they sold Joseph (Gen.27:33-36), his favorite son.

Moses had his own “excuses” and pleaded before God (Exodus 4:10). Because excuses, which were tantamount to unbelief and rebellion, have become a very common thing among the children of Israel (Exodus 14:11-12; Numbers 11,13,14, Deuteronomy 1:34-40), a whole generation was not allowed to enter into the Promised Land (Joshua 5)!

Again, we can take note that in most of these excuses, the people did it before their God. So with excuses, it doesn’t excuse them for the consequences, or possible consequence of their action.

As a quote attributed to Alexander Pope, succinctly put it, “An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie; for an excuse is a guarded lie.”

But what makes an excuse wrong, if it’s done for all the wrong purposes—it’s habit forming and character destroying—one will simply become good at lying.

Even Jesus Christ, has so much to say about those making excuses, instead of following Him.

59 Then He said to another, “Follow Me.”

But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”

60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.”

61 And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.”

62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:59-62

Jesus also knows that our “hold” for material things is a snare and can be used as an “excuse”:

18 Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

19 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ ”

21 And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.”

22 So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

23 But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich. Luke 18:18-23  

Our pompous and self-righteous attitude do not make for a good excuse, as the following words from Christ, tells us-

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matthew 7:21-23

We cannot afford to make excuses on something that will assure us of God’s protection, ensure blessings for our life! We don’t give in to our excuses that will keep us or will deny ourselves from life’s rewards and favor.

Another way that God checks on us, our life’s priorities, is through His divine appointments, called “holy convocations” (listed in Leviticus 23).  The Sabbath and holy days are not simply called “rest days” but they are also commanded assemblies on a weekly or seasonal basis for our spiritual check-ups, and a test for our focus and priority which is for our “good” (Gen 2:3; Mark 2:27), so no excuses!

Benjamin Franklin once said that, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” Excuses do not make a good person—it is a way out for the lazy, the fearful and cowardly. “The lazy man says, ‘There is lion in the road! A fierce lion in the streets!’” (Proverbs 26:13)

Rather, strive to accept the challenges in life and be better at it! Proverbs 28:1 says, “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as lion.”

As another saying goes, “You need to be stronger than your excuses!” Making excuses is the plea or alibi of the weak.      

I want to close my message with a parable of Jesus spoken personally to his disciples as it also prophetically tells us about God’s desire for everyone to have no excuses when the Call of His Kingdom comes.

15 Now when one of those who sat at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!”

16 Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, 17 and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ 18 But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ 20 Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. 21 So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’ 23 Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’” Luke 14:15-24

Thus, there is simply no antidote for excuses, as the next verse says:

And He turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:25-26

Do you think you still have your excuses? Think again!

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