Sinful Excuses?

84/365 days of blogging

I recently read a book titled “Yes, Lord, I Have Sinned, But I Have Several Excellent Excuses!” (some excerpts in this post are taken from this book).  I found it very scolding at times and then felt like I was lifted up from the pit of despair.  But it got me to thinking.  Why do we feel like God will accept our excuses?  Why do we even make them?  We make excuses for sinning and never think twice about it but make sure things in our lives that are important to us are always done!  We never fail ourselves.  But we fail God everyday.

Luke 14:1-24

Now when one of those who sat at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!”  Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’  But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’  And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’  Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’  So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’  And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’  Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.  For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.”

Did you notice how the ones invited to the party had excuses that they couldn’t attend?  Many of them turned down the invitation due to the inconvenience.  We to can resist or delay responding to God’s invitation, and our excuses may sound reasonable.  Work duties, family responsibilities, financial needs, or whatever they may be.  Nevertheless, god’s invitation is the most important event in our lives, no matter how inconveniently it may be timed.  Are you making excuses to avoid responding to God’s call?  Jesus reminds us that the time will come when God will pull his invitation and offer it to others — then it will be too late to get into the banquet.

We make all kinds of excuses by using our words as excuses.  Lets look at the matter of missing church.

  • I don’t have anything to wear.
  • Sunday is my only day to sleep in.
  • I have company
  • I can’t handle being in a crowd.
  • I just can’t get up that early
  • And so on…..

What about profanity?

  • We try to justify it by calling it adult, honest, realistic, speech.  But what could be more childish, dishonest, or unreal?

What about unfaithfulness?

  • This is the most universally and amazingly justified sin in the world.  All the way from the classic “My wife doesn’t understand me” to “If you love somebody why isn’t it all right?”  Why, it has even been called, of all things, the new morality.  If we call it the new morality, we dupe ourselves, because it is the oldest immorality in the world.

Oh wait!  Here is a good one…..Gossip!

  • It is so dangerous, so cruel, so hurtful, and so devastating, so sinful.  And yet….we indulge in it so frequently and excuse it so lightly.  I once heard this excuse for gossip:  “if it is the truth, it isn’t gossip is it?

What about tempers?  Have you ever heard anyone say “Everyone knows I was born with a hot temper, but my temper is like a cyclone:  It blows up quickly and blows away just as quickly.”  What people with a bad temper don’t realize is that their temper, like a cyclone, also leaves behind immeasurable hurt, agony, heartache, and devastation.

We also excuse ourselves for many other reasons.

  • We use ourselves as scapegoats.  We shift the blame to someone else, a trick as old as the Garden of Eden.  After all Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent, even the serpent tried to blame someone else.
  • We blame circumstances or past events.  We blame our behavior on past events.  Whether it be abuse, divorce, only child…what ever it may be in our past that has caused us pain, we choose to blame it.
  • We blame evil spirits.   Have you ever heard anyone say “The devil made me do it”?

So what does the Bible say about excuses?  First God sees through our excuses.  Like a parent who knows all the children well, God knows us.  God can’t be conned!  God knows us better than we know ourselves.  God sees through us and our excuses.  Our excuses seem so frail and feeble under the light of God.  That is what the parable that Jesus told was about.  The story has some strange elements, but one central truth here needs to be understood:  We can make excuses for almost anything we want to do or don’t want to do, but God sees through them — and our excuses may be the very things that are keeping us out fo God’s party…out of God’s Kingdom and out of God’s presence.

Second, God is more interested in forgiving our sins than in hearing our excuses.  We don’t need a scapegoat; we have a Savior.  Christ came to show us that forgiveness is at hand.  We see it powerfully in the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15.  We are not justified by our eloquent excuses but by the grace of a loving caring, forgiving God!

Third, What God wants from us is not excuses but penitence.  What is said with the lips is not nearly as important as what happens in the heart.  We see this dramatically in Luke 18, Jesus’ parable of the PHarisee and the publican who go up to the Temple to pray.  The pharisee tries to “excuse” himself.   He tries to cover his guilt with words:  “Lord, I do this, I do that, I do the other.”  And then he tries scapegoats”: “And I think you Lord, that I’m not like these other men, especially like this publican. ”

What God wants is not excuses, but penitence and commitment.  Yes, we have sinned, and we have several excellent excuses, but God sees through them.  And he’s much more interested in forgiveness, penitence, and commitment, anyway.

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