noun: a reason or explanation put forward to defend or justify a fault or offense; a reason put forward to conceal the real reason for an action; a pretext
My father used to sing a song 20 years ago that I can still remember the words to: “Excuses, excuses, you’ll hear them everyday. Now the devil he’ll supply them if from church you’ll stay away.” These words make me giggle a little because of their nursery rhyme flavor; however, I haven’t laughed at how many times God brought the word “excuses” to my attention this week. First, it was the topic during two different devotional times, a chapter focus of a nonfiction book I’m reading, and this morning it was the point of the pastor’s sermon. Okay God, I get it: what are you trying to tell me about “making excuses?”
In Luke 14, Jesus tells the parable of The Great Feast. It’s one you might have heard a few times. Here’s the gist: big party…invitations sent…regrets given…excuses sited…others invited…party starts…first invites missed one amazing party. The first invitations sent out for this grand wedding feast were to close friends and family but “they all began making excuses” (Luke 14: 18). One had work commitments, another family obligations, and the last just wasn’t interested (my interpretation of course). Two out of the three had reasonable excuses but still they were excuses.
I love the symbolism drawn here between the feast and God’s “invitations.” If you’ve ever been on a cruise then you can surely grasp the context and connotation of “feast.” The finest fare covers table after table: fancy fruits, decadent desserts, succulent steaks, scrumptious seafood, and free-flowing drink fountains abound on a cruise ship. What’s even better is that this array of food is available 24/7. It never runs out. You can delight yourself until sick.
Now consider the comparison: God invites and we have the chance to sit and dine just like were on a cruise. Albeit the “food” is not literal but figurative. God might invite us by saying: “My daughter, I invited you to take a new job, to be a helpmate to your husband, to lead a bible study, to mentor a young person, to ______________ (you fill in the blank). What invitation has God extended to you? Think back to a time when God requested the pleasure of you company in some task, some event. Did you accept or make an excuse? Now consider the feast that was laid before you in that invitation. What treasures would you have known or experience if only you would have said yes?
Moses was the king of excuses (Exodus 4). God did miracle after miracle to make the “invitation” even more inviting, yet Moses continued to make excuses. What blessing, what feast, did he forsake for an excuse? Even now each one of us can contrive an excuse for turning down God’s life “invitations,” but the truth is none of them will hold up. God can and will do the impossible (Mark 10:27). We can do anything through Christ (Phil. 4:13). Habakkak 1:5 is a great example of how God crushes our feeble excuses with His power: “The Lord said, ‘Look at the nations and be amazed! Watch and be astounded at what I will do. For I am doing a something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.'”
One last important note is that the passage tells us that the invitation won’t be extended forever (Luke 14:24). If we keep making excuses and reject the invitation, it is eventually revoked. The feast of blessings (financial, emotional, spiritual, physical, etc) won’t be offered over and over. We must learn to stop making excuses and respond with “Why yes, I’d love to come to Your feast, God!” When things in our lives aren’t going as we had planned or we struggle with the same issue over and over, we must ask ourselves which feasts we excused away, which blessing we chose to forfeit.
It has been said that “excuses are the tools with which persons with no purpose in view build for themselves great monuments of nothing.” I don’t want my life to be a monument of nothing. I want to live a life without excuse; a life that builds a monument to God’s glory. How about you? Ready to eat?