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Sunday, June 9, 2013 pm 

What’s Your Excuse?

 Excuses!  A few years ago, a song was released by the Kingsmen entitled, “Excuses.”  The chorus said, “Excuses, excuses, you’ll hear them every day.  And the devil he’ll supply them, if the church you stay away.  When people come to know the Lord the devil always loses, so to keep them folks away from church he offers them excuses.”  

Excuses are something that many of us deal with regularly.  Perhaps we are guilty of using excuses or else we hear them from others.   Some put off obeying the gospel by saying, “I plan to take care of it, but I’m not ready” or “I don’t know enough” or “I’m not good enough”.    Others make excuses for missing worship services, “I woke up late” or “The car wouldn’t start” or “Company came at the last minute” or “I had to work.”  For bad behavior some will say, “I can’t help it” or “I know it’s wrong, but I keep slipping up” or “I guess I let him get the best of me”, etc. or “I’m trying to do better.”  Some make excuses for quitting on the Lord or leaving a congregation by saying, “There’s too many hypocrites there” or “I think we need a change” or “I don’t like the way I was treated by the elders” or “the preaching is too… loud, negative, soft, positive, deep, simple,- (insert whatever quality irks you)”, etc.  Some make excuses for not engaging in personal work, “I don’t know enough” or “I’m too busy right now” or “nobody is interested.”  The list of scenarios and excuses is endless.  But what does the Bible say about excuses?  Tonight I want to speak for a few moments about excuses. 

 I.                    The problem with excuses

a.        What is an excuse?  Originally the word meant, “To give a defense or reason for something.”  And we still use the word in that way today sometimes.  An “excused absence” is SUPPOSED to be one with a legitimate reason.  BUT more often than not, the word has come to be associated with an unjustified or false reason for one’s conduct, or lack thereof.   And that is what we want to talk about this evening.

b.       While there are certainly legitimate reasons why things happen (and thus one is excused), typically the excuse is illegitimate and designed to either conceal true motives or lessen the guilt that one has.   Because we give the benefit of the doubt (i.e. 1 Cor. 13:5 – love thinks no evil), how much of one’s reasoning is actually an excuse is something that the one who uses them will have to determine for himself.  But know this, God knows REAL motives!  As we shall see, excuses are not acceptable in God’s eyes.

c.        Excuses are often the product of lies, laziness, poor self-discipline, pride, jealousy, or indifference and other sinful attitudes.   Consider Prov. 22:13, “The lazy man says, ‘There is a lion outside!  I shall be slain in the streets! 

d.       Excuses are often habitual – one who uses excuses probably does so often and whenever needed.  Some use excuses so often or the same one over and over that the discerning spirit begins to doubt one’s sincerity.  Incidentally, the frequency of using excuses is one way to identify the difference between a legitimate reason and an excuse.

e.       It is possible for a legitimate reason to become an excuse – there are some things that are legitimate reasons at first, but in time they are no longer acceptable.  For example: In our list of excuses at the beginning of this lesson we spoke of one not knowing enough to do personal work, or the car not starting, or being late because of some unforeseen event.  BUT if the same thing keeps occurring over time it is no longer a legitimate reason and becomes an excuse, perhaps even a CRUTCH to keep one from doing what he ought to do.  Consider Heb. 5:12-14 where the writer rebukes them for not being more knowledgeable.   Whose fault was it then?  Note the phrase, “By this time you ought to be teachers.

 

 II.                  Excuses in the Bible

a.        The Old Testament gives plenty of examples of excuses.

                                                   i.      The very first recorded sin involved excuses.  Gen. 3 records Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit.  Vs. 11-13 record the excuses of both Adam and Eve.  They passed the blame rather than taking responsibility.

                                                  ii.      Exodus 3 & 4 records an account in the life of Moses where he made some 5 excuses seeking to get out of leading Israel from bondage.  He was at the burning bush and the Lord told him to lead His people out of Egypt.  Moses began trying to get out of it:

1.       Exodus 3:11, “Who am I” – he was saying, “I’m nobody!  Who’s going to listen to me?  The Lord answered, “I will be with you.”

2.       Exodus 3:13, Moses asked, “What shall I say to them?”  - he was saying I don’t know what to say.  God answered, “I AM WHO I AM.”  He gave Moses the answer and further instructions.

3.       Exodus 4:1, “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; Suppose they say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you.’”  The Lord answered, “What is that in your hand? He spoke of his rod.  It was turned into a miracle.  In fact, He gave him 3 miracles (staff to serpent, leprous hand, and water to blood).

4.       Exodus 4:10, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”  He said, “I can’t speak well.  I’m not a debater or orator.”  Again the Lord promised to be with Him and reminded Moses that He was the Lord.  Further He provided Aaron his brother to be his spokesman.

5.       Exodus 4:13, “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whoever else You may send.”  Rather than an excuse, this is the real reason.  He didn’t want to do it.  BUT, vs. 14 says that the Lord was angry with him.  Basically He let Moses know that he was going to do this!

6.       There are MANY lessons in this account – among them. 1) God had answer for his excuses!  2) He didn’t ACCEPT his excuses!  3) Moses was STILL accountable for what he was capable of doing (which was more than he thought).

                                                iii.      1 Samuel 15 records King Saul being commanded to destroy the Amalekites.  He half obeys but spares the king and the livestock which was contrary to God’s will. 

1.       When he returns from the victory Saul is confronted by Samuel vs. 13 says, ““Then Samuel went to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed are you of the LORD! I have performed the commandment of the LORD.”  Samuel then asks, “Why do I hear sheep?”  LET the excuses begin! 

2.       Vs. 15 – the people spared the best to sacrifice to the Lord. 

3.       When he was harshly rebuked by the Lord through Samuel, Saul said, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord (sort of – TT),…BUT THE PEOPLE took the plunder, sheep and oxen…to sacrifice.” (vs. 20-21)

4.       After his condemnation, he says, “I have sinned…because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.”  He begs for forgiveness. (vs. 24-25)  

5.       BUT it doesn’t work!  Saul is rejected as king by the Lord because of this.  AGAIN note that the excuses didn’t work!

                                                iv.      Ecclesiastes 5:1-5 on making vows we are warned not to be rash in making vows.  Vs. 6, “Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands?

b.       Excuses in the New Testament

                                                   i.      Luke 14:15-24, Jesus gives a parable of a man that gave a great supper and invited many.  But those who were invited began making excuses – checking out a piece of ground, testing oxen, and having married a wife.  The master is greatly angered and those who made excuses were rejected.

                                                  ii.      Luke 9:57-62, Jesus calls for disciples and they begin making excuses.  Jesus answers each excuse.  In the end He says, “No one, having put his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God.

                                                iii.      John 15:22, concerning those who had rejected the teachings of Jesus, He notes they had opportunity to hear and obey, but ”now they have no excuse for their sin.”

                                                iv.      Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,”

 

And thus we can see the folly of making excuses.   We all stumble from time to time and things happen.  But when they do, just be honest about it.  Take responsibility for your own actions and don’t seek a scapegoat.  Notice that the excuses that we have discussed did NOT work in God’s eyes.  And if they do not work back then, they will not work now.  DON’T live you live governed by excuses.  It is a dangerous path to go down. 

When you stand before God in judgment, if you are rejected, what excuse will you make?  Think about it!