Excuses, Excuses!

Isn't it time for us to remove the veil from our eyes so that we might see ourselves as we really are?

John Rhodes served as a ministerial secretary far many years before retiring. He and his wife, Jo, live in California. They have two grown
children. John has been responsible for the successful ministry of countless clergy families.

Psalms 2:4 says, "The one enthroned in the heaven laughs." If God so chooses, He could laugh at our flimsy excuses for our actions and see through the shame we so often offer to Him and to each other. But thankfully, His judgment is too merciful to overlook the real reasons for failure. However, He is also too just to overlook our sham and pretense. First Samuel 16:7 tells us that "Man looketh on out­ward appearance" but fortunately for us, God does not.

Isn't it time for us to remove the veil from our eyes so that we might see ourselves as we really are?

The self-justification instinct seems almost innate in all of us. We want to justify our actions as holy and good. We would like both God and man to think that some of the things we say are reasons; not excuses.

We should begin each morning by looking at ourselves in a true light. Our past shows that we are alI too eager to explain away our actions and justify our behavior. We are quick to echo the Egyptian hieroglyphic that says "I never did it."

The Excuse of False Blame

Genesis 3:12 says, "And the man said, the woman whom thou gayest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat." Adam tried to fool God and place blame on anyone but himself.

In the phrase "the woman that thou gayest me" is a poignant phrase that foreshadows a tragic experience. Eve had fallen to sin. Adam, self-willed and sympathetic to his wife, also partook of the apple. We find Adam and Eve hiding in the cool of the garden from the Lord. For the first time, they sense their nakedness. When questioned, Adam is quick to defensively reply, "the woman whom thou gayest me."

Wanting to put the blame on someone else other than himself, Adam blames the woman, but indirectly blames God. in essence, he is saying, "God, you ought to talk to Bye about this. You gave her to me. It's really your fault."

Six or seven millenniums haven't changed man very much. Man is still offering this same excuses. "I would get to Sabbath School on time, but this woman causes me to be late. I would join the church but my boss insists I must work on the Sabbath." Friend of mine, quit blaming others for your mistakes and accept your own guilt. We sin of ourselves. Rather than place blame on others, seek God's forgiveness and mercy.

The Excuse of Coincidence

"And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it to me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf" Exodus 32:24.

And there came out this calf. This text gives us a lame answer to a ticklish problem. Aaron had lost control of the Israelites and had weakened to the pressures to make a golden calf. The Israelites said, "Moses brought us out here to die; he's been gone so long on the mountain, let us make a golden calf and worship it." Aaron weakened. Wh:.rn Moses returned from 40 days and nights with God, he saw the sin and immoral rites being performed about this calf, Moses threw the tables down and asked for an explanation. Joshua replied, "And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf."

Such a weak excuse. It is like the man who had feelings toward a certain woman in the church and kept finding "reasons" to stop by her house. Though she was a married woman, he found himself justifying his visits. "I need to give her a quarterly." "I think this book would bring her closer to God." The excuses continued. Before you know it, a home was broken. Both parties countered,"I don't know how it happened, the situation just happened."

Sin. We need to recoil from it. Just as Aaron, if we relent enough to put in the broken gold, we will have the golden calf experience come out.

The Excuse of Inability

In Exodus 4:10, Moses says to the Lord, "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou has spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech and of a slow tongue."

God's call is the promise of His enabling. We immediately picture Moses out on the Gideon Plain. God has spoken to him. Moses immediately expresses his hesitancy to do the work of God. He offers what seems to be valid excuses.

Moses apparently had a speech impediment, and here was a ready answer when called into serv'Le. Get someone else. At nominating committee time, we hear this excuse. "Get someone more qualified, Lord. You know I can't do this job."

No doubt, there is alwar someone more qualified to do anything we might be asked to do for God, but that is no real reason to back away from responsibility. When God leads others to ask as to serve, we should do our humble best to accommodate the request. Be assured of this, God's call is His enabling. He says, "With­out me, you can do nothing." God can and will use you if you only allow Him to.

If we choose to be like Moses and take stock of our weaknesses and our inabilities, we too might quake with fear. It is important to remember the Bible verse that says, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."

When Moses expressed doubt about his ability to speak, God said, "Now therefore I will be with thy mouth and teach thee what thou shalt say."

Luke 9:59 tells how one man answered God's call by saying,"Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father." The Lord knew this was an excuse and not a real reason for declining the offer to follow him. Perhaps the man wanted to stay behind to inherit his father's earthly belongings. We really don't know what his motives were; we just know Christ saw through the excuses.

Have you used such excuses?

"When ] get a new job, I'll be able to keep the Sabbath." "When I get a pension next year, then I'll quit and keep the Sabbath." "As soon as I get these bills paid up, I'll pay tithe." And so the excuses continue. Excuses the Lord is not interested in. When He says, "Follow me," don't delay. Heed the verse in Matthew 6:33 that says, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

The Excuse of Good Intentions

"And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in Gilgal. And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams" I Samuel 15:20-22.

Saul, the first king of Israel, had what seemed to be good intentions in circumventing a direct command of the Lord. He had been given instructions to destroy the Amalekites, to destroy their cattle and sheep and goats, to wipe them off the earth.

The soldiers were to take no loot from the battle, but Saul couldn't resist taking a few of the beautiful sheep and goats. He wanted to give them to King Agag as a token of his victory. He said to himself, "1'11 use these in sacrificial offerings at the temple."

The prophet replied, "To obey is better than sacrifice, to hearken than the fat of rams." God is far more impressed with obedience than He is with good intentions. 

Excuse of Procrastination

"And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time: when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee" Acts 24:25.

Felix said, "Lord, you know I'll follow you some day, but not just now.* Felix was almost persuaded, but he put off his decision and, tragically, never did accept Christ. Felix saw what a sinner he was yet never surrendered. How many have good intentions of giving up some pet sins in their lives but want to do it in their own time? Time has a way of disappearing.

Excuse of Flattery

"There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" John 3:1-5.

Perhaps this is the most deceptive excuse of all. Flattery is like soft soap-98 percent lie. Christ sees through flattery and does not fall for such tactics.

Such excuses are used by many would-be converts and not a few backsliders. To evade the issue at hand, they will resort to flattery, thinking thus to excuse or cause one to forget their sins, A backslider will say, "My, I sure enjoy your preaching." However, he still doesn't attend church. A would-be convert may say, "Well, you Adventists are good people. I sure admire you." But when it comes to pinning them down to action and obedience, you will see that their words are simply flattery; there is no substance.

We all need what Nicodemus needed. We need a new birth experience, a change of heart, a turn around. The Lord wasted no time in listening to further flattery but came to the point. He said, "Listen, Nicodemus, you need to be born again." This seems almost blunt and tactless, but God could read the heart. He knew Nicodemus' motives in flattery. He knew Nicodemus needed conversion.

The Excuse of Occupation and Possessions

"And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods" Luke 12:18.

This man was a busy landlord—a fruit and vegetable wholesaler. Here is a picture of occupational hazard. A man becomes a success and to him is added riches; then he loses sight of the One who gave him power to get wealth. When asked by the church to serve or give, he replies, "Why, it's going to cost me so much to build this bigger barn, I just can't afford to give right now" or "I'm so tired taking care of my estate or little mansion that I can't take on any responsibility in the church?' Just an excuse, sure, but God knows the heart.

Christ said,"Beware of covetousness, for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of things which he possesseth." The Lord calls such a man a fool. "This night shall thy soul be required of thee." Don't let your job, your possessions, your vocations or avocations stand between you and God. If you are too busy to pray, to help in the church, or to study your Bible, you are too busy.

The Excuse of the Majority

A lot of us use the excuse, "Well, everybody else does it, why shouldn't I?" Here is the text for you to study. "And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go look at it; I pray thee have me excused" Luke 14:18.

Don't you know that making such excuses is contagious? First you stay home from prayer meeting, then someone else says, "Well, he never goes, so why should I?" One person decides to quit the choir, then another, then another. One family decides not to send their children to church school, then another makes the same decision. It's like a domino effect. A dangerous trend develops.

People follow the crowd instead of thinking for themselves. Too often the crowd doesn't know the facts and, what's more, they often get a distorted picture of the truth.

Don't sell out to majority thinking—think for yourself. Follow what is right and reasonable. God made us as individuals and not puppets. Be a thinker and not a mere reflection of other people's thoughts.

We all make excuses. There is the excuse of false blame—it's not my fault; the excuse of coincidence—well, it just turned out that way. I wasn't to blame; the excuse of inability-I'm not qualified; the excuse of personal need—I'm needed at home, I have to take care of my obligations first. There is the excuse of good intentions—I really meant what I did for the good of the cause; the excuse of procrastination—when the season is more convenient; the excuse of flattery—if I flood you with enough soft soap, the suds will obliterate your vision of rny faults; the excuse of occupation —I'm just too busy, Lord, surely you'll understand; and of course, the excuse of the majority—if no one else does, why should I?

Such excuses are weak reasons for justifying our selfish way of life. When asked to serve God, don't say "I can't." There is no excuse for turning down God.

John Rhodes served as a ministerial secretary far many years before retiring. He and his wife, Jo, live in California. They have two grown
children. John has been responsible for the successful ministry of countless clergy families.