NO EXCUSES FOR EXCUSES
INTRODUCTION... School Time Excuses
Douglas Bernstein, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois recently asked faculty members for the ‘most unusual, bizarre, and amazing student excuses’ they had ever heard. He gt dozens of responses from his fellow professors:
* Grandparent death: an old favorite, but one professor’s class established some sort of record when 14 of 250 students reported their grandmother’s death just before final exams. In another class a student reported that he could not take a test because of his grandmother’s death. When the professor expressed condolences a week later, the student replied, ‘Don’t worry, she was terminal, but she is feeling much better now.’
* Car Problems: "I had an accident, the police impounded the car, and my paper is in the glove compartment."
* Animal Trauma: "I can’t be at the exam because my cat is having kittens and I am her coach."
* Crime: "I need to take the final early because the husband of a woman I am seeing is threatening to kill me."
We seem to have an excuse for everything, don’t we? There are even websites on the internet that will help you generate an excuse! It is true... you type in the type of excuse you need and it generates one for you (www.zompist.com/excuse.html). Also, you can by a doctor’s excuse from a licenced physician for $14.99 to give to your employer (http://www.doctorsexcuse.com/) or PE or class or anyone else. I find that totally amazing!
What exactly is an excuse? In a court of law, "an excuse is a defense in which a defendant argues that he or she was not liable for his or her actions at the time a law was broken and thus he or she should not be held liable for a crime. Excuses include diminished responsibility, duress, infancy, insanity, involuntary intoxication, mistake, provocation, and unconsciousness (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Excuse). I think my favorite excuse from that list is ‘infancy.’ I was a baby when the crime happened... it wasn’t me! I think an excuse is a reason we give when something happens that does not go our way. It is the ‘why’ we did something when we get caught. It is our reasons for not doing something we know we should do.
The Bible is full of people making excuses and making excuses is as old as human beings. You know the story from Genesis chapter 3. Adam ate the forbidden fruit, then when confronted about it, he came up with an excuse: "The woman you put here with me-- she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it" (verse 12). Then the blame was shifted to Eve. What did Eve have to say? Genesis 3:13 records her excuse: "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." It was the serpent’s turn and he didn’t have a leg to stand on.
Exodus 32 shares with us the story of the Golden Calf. The people of God finally arrived from Egypt and settled at the mountain of God to receive the Ten Commandments. Moses was gone a long time and the people became restless. The people wanted Aaron, Moses’ brother, to make idols that they could worship. They gave him gold. He made a calf. They were persistent in their request. Moses returned with the Ten Commandments in hand and asked Aaron if he had made the idol. What was Aaron’s response? Aaron is trying to explain himself and says, "So I told them, ’Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!" (Exodus 32:24). Aaron was not to blame... the fire was. Ridiculous and almost comical if the sin were not so grave. We have excuse after excuse.
We are going to look at a parable this morning where the invited guests made excuses. Let’s read this story from Jesus.
READ LUKE 14:15-24
I. THE PARABLE
Our parable this morning describes for us a great banquet to which the master of the house had extended invitations far and wide. No time had been noted in the invitation, but the understanding of the day was, once all was ready, notification would go out to all who accepted. The moment arrived. The servants were dispatched to gather the guests. The expectation would be that those invited would drop what they were doing and come, because to accept the invitation beforehand and then make excuse when the day came was a grave insult. And yet the excuses come. Everyone knew that the banquet was being prepared and they were supposed to have cleared their schedules. All who were invited gave excuses. Other things and people were taking priority over the banquet that was prepared.
Excuse One: One man said he was too involved in his business. The man had bought a piece of ground and needed to look after it. A person can become too involved in any business, not just the business of developing property or farming. A person’s business, profession, and affairs can often consume all of life. Other things fall away and the business is all that matters.
Excuse Two: Another man said that he was too wrapped up in new purchases. The oxen had just been purchased. They were a new possession and the owner wanted to try them out. So it is with new purchases such as houses, cars, bikes, records and CDs, books, radios, televisions, and a host of other material things. The Bible tells us over and over that material things can take root in our lives and the love of things can become most important in our lives.
Excuse Three: Still another man said that he was too wrapped up with his family. This man had just got married. We know that marriage is ordained by God and that getting married is certainly a good thing. I think the master of the banquet would have liked it if preparations had been made to attend. Maybe this man could have brought his new wife along, but just says, "I can’t come." Family can also become an all consuming issue in our life.
II. THE INTERPRETATION
So what does this parable mean? As in all parables, there is a surface story and then the spiritual meaning underneath. This is a story about a prepared banquet and all the guests excuse themselves from coming. The key to interpreting this parable comes in Luke 14:15 right before Jesus gives the parable. Jesus is eating in a pharisee’s house (Luke 14:1-14) and is discussing spiritual matters with those attending. One of the people at the table says, "Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God."
Who is the one preparing the banquet in the parable? God.
What is the banquet? The Kingdom of God / Christian Faith and Life / Christianity
Who are those invited? Us / People / Believers
III. THE APPLICATION
How does this parable apply to us?
What is the meaning of Jesus’ story about this banquet and the excuses?
How are we to understand this parable in our lives?
The application for this parable comes I think, in looking at the different excuses given. You see, God wants us to make Him a priority. The parable is all about this prepared banquet that all of these people were supposed to attend and were supposed to make a priority. God wants to be a priority in our lives. He wants His Word to be the primary influence in our lives. He wants our Sabbaths to be dedicated to Him. He wants our worship to be directed at only Him. He wants our money to honor Him first. God wants to have a relationship with us and He wants that relationship to be the most important. But, we make excuses.
* Maybe your business has taken over your life and you have no time for God. What is your excuse?
* Maybe the ‘things’ of life and the pursuit of them is more important than God. What is your excuse?
* Maybe you haven’t cracked open your Bible in quite awhile. What is your excuse?
* Maybe you are holding onto a grudge and just won’t forgive someone. What is your excuse?
* Maybe you are living like a Christian on Sundays, but not Monday through Saturday. What is your excuse?
* Maybe all the praying you ever do is here at church. What is your excuse?
* Maybe you have decided not to tithe. What is your excuse?
You see the Christian life is all about giving God the priority and living under His Lordship. When you accept Jesus Christ into your life, you accept Him as Savior and Lord. Most of us have no problem with accepting Jesus as Savior. We know that we cannot earn our way into Heaven and we need our sins washed away. We need Jesus. Yet, we cannot forget that He is Lord as well. He is the priority and it is His will that should be sought after.
I have no idea what your excuse is for God or what the issue is. We all do it. We all give God excuses of why we can’t be faithful. I want to encourage you this day to rid yourself of your excuse and commit yourself to being faithful to God.