We are skillful at the art of making excuses, aren’t we? Especially when it comes to making it to church …..
“I don’t know how” … “I didn’t understand” … “I have a doctor’s appointment”… “There’s been a death in the family” … “I have a relative coming in from Hawaii and I need to pick them up at the airport.” … And, my all time favorite: “I can’t get across the mud puddles to reach the car” ….
In the Christian world, we can find all sorts of excuses not to obey God’s voice: “It’s the preacher’s job” ….”It’s not my gift” …. “I’ve already served, let someone else do it”…. “I’m too busy, or too tired, or too old, or too young, or too sick, too uneducated, or too depressed.”
Excuses are tools of the incompetent, and those who specialize in them seldom go far. Ben Franklin wrote, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”
A “friend” felt led of God to help me get in touch with myself by telling me that in her opinion, if God called me to do anything, He must have had a wrong number. Ouch indeed! However, God has a way to overcome weakness and our insufficiencies, doesn’t He? I have learned that the person most aware of their own inadequacy is usually the person most dependent on God’s all-sufficiency. My inadequacy has caused me to rely upon God fully. His strength is made perfect in my weakness. His glory is manifested through my flaws and infirmities.
Our talent may appear inadequate, but God always equips those He calls. We have the promise of God’s provision. “Then the Lord put forth His hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.” (Jeremiah 1:9). The touch was not so much to purify as it was to inspire and empower ….
It seems to me that American people are especially good at making excuses. Sometimes we make excuses to try to keep from hurting someone’s feelings. For example, If you were asked to go to church, but really didn’t want to go, you might want to spare the feelings of the asker and come up with some excuse as to why you had to decline, but are you speaking the truth? And if it’s not truth we speak ~ it is falsehoods; yep lies. Sometimes we make excuses to avoid responsibility for our actions. We make excuses for things we did wrong, times we failed, things we don’t want to do, situations we don’t want to be in. How many times have you told someone “I forgot” when in reality you just didn’t want to do what was asked of you? Making excuses isn’t a good practice and it is especially dangerous when we start making excuses in our spiritual lives ….
We make excuses when we don’t want to obey; like commands to forgive, or to stop gossiping. We make excuses when we don’t want to go where God sends us; it may be a mission field, or it may be a visit to a friend, or it may be church. We make excuses when we don’t want to believe what God tells us; that all things work for the good.
We should be able to identify with Moses as he makes excuses before the Lord. We see that the Lord has told Moses that he was the man God has chosen to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses doesn’t want the job and so he gives God his list of excuses.
Moses felt unqualified, uneducated, unknowledgable, even discouraged. (Exodus 3).
But God continues the rebuttal and He doesn’t tell him that his problem is low self-esteem or inability. He tells him that what he lacks, God will supply. I can’t imagine that any of the great servants of God ever felt qualified for what God called them to do. Paul told us in Philippians that he had learned that “he could do all things through Christ who gives him strength.” (Phillipians 4:13) The key was not Paul’s ability, but God’s.
In fact, God speaks to Moses as if this whole project is a “done deal” so to speak. He doesn’t say, Moses, “if” you bring the children of Israel out …. it’s “when” you bring them out. It doesn’t matter what you are facing. It doesn’t matter what God has called you to do or to endure … you can do it if you trust His strength! You have to trust.
It may be a new mountain like heading off to college or moving away from home, it may be a new job that provides great opportunities but also has incredible responsibilities, it may be the prospect of chemotherapy or radiation, it may be an opportunity to serve in a ministry, it may be the reality of standing before death’s door, it may be the opportunity to share your faith with a neighbor or a good friend. Whatever the challenge, God will be with you. You may not be strong enough by yourself, but you are NOT by yourself. He is with you. He assures you of that: “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).
But Moses didn’t want to do what God has called him to do. Sound familiar? Moses is concerned that he will be asked a theological question that he doesn’t have an answer for. It’s “what if …. what if …. what if”…. Because Moses doesn’t have an answer he doesn’t want to go. Moses’ question was not that unusual. Have you ever not talked to someone about Christ because you were afraid they would ask you a question that you couldn’t answer? Have you ever told someone you couldn’t teach or lead a class because you “didn’t know enough”? If so, then you understand where Moses is coming from. The problem with the excuse “I don’t know enough” is that there will always be something that you don’t know or understand. Moses could have continued his protests. What if the people of Israel ask me where you live? What if they ask me about the Trinity? What if they want an answer to the question, ‘Where have you been for the past 400 years?’ If you wait until you have all the answers … you will never serve the Lord. And whether you realize it or not, giving excuses when you really just don’t want to do a thing is a form of lying. Your telling a lie rather than just being honest and saying “I don’t want to go” or do that thing. We know lying is sin, and what happens to liars and sinners who do not confess their sins and repent. Again, I ask: what’s your excuse?
I’ve learned a few things and one being is the best way to grow in knowledge is to step out in faith. The best way to learn about God is to obey God. God makes a habit of taking simple things and simple people and using them in profound ways. Paul said, God “hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty” (1 Corinthians 1:27).
Throughout history God has taken shepherds, fisherman, tax-collectors, children, and a whole host of rag-tag, ragamuffin, individuals and have used them to change the world; in that the world will usually respect someone who has the honesty to say, “I don’t know” when they are confronted with a question they cannot answer. The world respects someone humble enough to admit that they are still “in process” much more than someone who tries to “bluff” their way through the tough questions.
There is certainly much to be gained by trying to discern what God has equipped you to do. It is good to try to identify your spiritual gifts but we should do so in an effort to find direction for our lives … not in order to limit what we do for God. If the prophets handled spiritual gifts like we often do, most of the prophets would have never left home! They would have concluded that it was not “their gift.”
Moses was trying to hide behind His inability, but God was telling Him that He would not call Him to something that He doesn’t equip him for. God says the same thing to you. If you will follow Him, He will give you what you need. If you are willing to serve Him, He will equip you to serve Him well. You may not have a natural talent in a particular area, but if God has called you to a particular work, He will give you what you need. I wonder how many people are living miserable lives right now because they refuse to do what God has told them to do. Rather then moving forward, they continue to make excuses. Instead of obeying God; they try to come up with reasons why they shouldn’t have to obey. Instead of trusting God’s promise they trust their fears. Are you one of those people?
But what if Moses hadn’t gone? What if he had flat out refused? I think Moses would have faced the discipline of the Lord. He would have forfeited the joy that came from living God’s way. But Moses didn’t refuse. Instead he was used by God in astounding ways. Do realize that the same choice is before you? Are you making excuses so you don’t have obey? Are you making excuses so you don’t have to do what you know God wants you to do or to go where He wants you to go? Are you making excuses for why you will not trust Him? Is there some excuse for why you have not made the decision to trust His grace for your eternal life?
If you want to be greatly used of God you must be willing to follow wherever He leads you. It’s time to stop hiding behind the excuses that we are so good at making. It’s time to stop resisting and start following. It’s time to stop saying, “I can’t” and start saying, “He can”…. It’s time to stop debating faith and start practicing it. Stop making excuses why you can’t get to church, or talk to your neighbor about Jesus. God hates excuses! You cannot be saved, changed, or grow by a gospel that you do not hear. Faith cometh by hearing!!! (Romans 10:17). Get off the sofa, and out of your comfort zone, and start applying yourself to the Word. If you want to call yourself a follower, or a disciple, you must stop making excuses!!
Lord I realise the importance of spiritual accountability in my own Christian. Help me not to balk at the thought of accountability, but rather to embrace it and learn all I can from the wise council of those that You place in my life. Lord I pray that together we would grow in grace and obtain wisdom in time of need. Lord I pray that You would provide me with someone, even a prayer partner, where together we could enjoy fellowship, but also build us a relationship that enables us to be transparent in our Christian walk and sufficiently mature and sensitive enough to give guidance to each other for our mutual encouragement and reciprocal counsel. I know that the enemy as a roaring lion seeks to devour all those that do not hold themselves accountable to You; leaving them vulnerable to his evil attacks and spiritual discouragement. Help me Lord to be the person You would have me to be. In Jesus name, Amen.