In Luke 14 Jesus tells of a man making a great supper and inviting many to come. The Bible says “they all with one consent began to make excuse” (v. 18). No one likes to admit that he makes excuses, however if each of us would be honest we would all have to plead guilty to making excuses. Why do people make excuses?
Some, when making excuses, say they are “not making excuses” but just giving “reasons” for their failure. They fail to realize that their “reason” for failure is in reality an excuse. Excuses are not made to “explain the facts.” They are made to conceal the facts from others and, in all probability, ourselves as well. Men do not make excuses for doing right. It is when we fail to do what we know we should do that we make excuses.
Some have the idea that so long as we tell the truth we are not making excuses. The person who believes this is surely deceiving himself. In the parable noted above there is no indication that the people were lying about buying property, buying oxen or getting married. However, they used these things to conceal the real problem; they simply were not willing to put forth the effort to attend.
The same is true with many today. Some fail to assemble with the saints. When questioned about their failure to attend they reply, “We had company come in” or “We were out of town.” Both statements may be true but they do not explain the problem. The real problem is lack of dedication and conviction. In the beginning when God asked Adam if he had “eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat” Adam replied, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat” (Genesis 3:11,12). What Adam said may have been true but it did not change the fact that he had eaten of the forbidden fruit. He was still responsible for his own actions. Someone has said that when you don’t want to do something one excuse is as good as another. I wonder how many of us have really listened to the excuses we sometimes offer for not doing the things we know we should be doing. It does not make us feel good to be forced to admit that the only reason we are not doing what we should be doing is that we Simply do not have the will and determination to do it. Excuses may soothe our conscience but they will not make us acceptable in the sight of God.
Excuse making is a poor substitute for obedience. When we fail to obey the Lord we have no excuse. Each of us can obey the Lord if we want to. When a person determines that he is going to do the Lord’s will there is nothing nor anyone that can prevent him from doing so. If you have never become a Christian you may make many excuses. You may try to blame your parents; you may point to “all those hypocrites” in the church or you may talk about all your personal problems and difficulties, however there is only one reason why you have not obeyed. As of this time you simply have been unwilling to make the commitment necessary to become a Christian.
Making excuses does not solve any problem. The people Jesus referred to in the parable still did not attend the supper. When you offer excuses for your failure to obey you still have not obeyed. This is why excuse making is so serious. It may give us a feeling of false security and, of even more importance, keep us from gaining heaven. How do we overcome excuse making? Some do not want to quit for in so doing they will be seen as they really are. The only way to overcome excuse making is to start doing the things we have been making excuses for not doing. When we do this we will be pleasing to the Lord and there will be no need for excuses.
By James Hahn
From Bulletin of the Birchwood Avenue Church of Christ