Summary: This message addresses common reasons unbelievers give of why they will not trust Christ. It also explores the difference between a "good reason" and an "excuse," and we find that most of these "good reasons" non-believers give are just "excuses."
I am well aware that one of the problems people have with speakers like me is that they often wonder if they are actually real human beings. I once read of a little girl who was taken to church for the first time ever. The child was struck by the solemness of the occasion. And after several moments she looked at her mother and asked, "Does the minister live here or does he just come down from heaven every Sunday?" There are those who wonder if preachers are real human beings or some kind of unidentified flying objects who just come down from heaven every Sunday.
Well, frankly, I cannot speak for other preachers but I can speak for this one and I assure you that I am a real human being. There are at least three ways I know that. One way I know that is that when it comes to temptation and doing what is right, I have the same struggles everyone here does. Very seldom do I counsel anyone in the areas of money, sex, pride, priorities, etc. that sooner or later I don’t have to follow my own advice. Very seldom do I counsel anyone who has fallen into sin in those areas that I don’t have to say, "But for the grace of God there be I."
A second reason I know that is when it comes to problems such as unexpected bills I can feel those as acutely as anyone else does. One time I was driving to Houston, Texas, for a speaking engagement in the middle of the summer. On the way down the compressor on the air conditioner on my car went out. Since I did not have time to get it fixed on the road, I therefore had to drive to Houston in 100-degree weather without an air-conditioner and get it fixed at a total cost of hundreds of dollars. Now, first of all, it was a Monday and I’ve yet to figure out why everything has to go wrong on a Monday. If the U. S. Supreme Court ever comes up with a suggestion that we change Mondays to Fridays and Fridays to Mondays I will campaign across the United States trying to get people to go for it. Furthermore, I had the understanding it would only cost $150 at the most. And it is not that I don’t like surprises but sometimes I’d rather be warned before I’m surprised. Then to add agony to grief, after getting my car fixed, on the way back to where I was speaking I got lost and therefore had to gobble down my dinner in less than 10 minutes. And that night I was scheduled to speak on the subject, "How to handle anxiety and worry." Frankly, I did not feel like speaking on anxiety or worry. I felt like speaking on how to be discouraged with 10,000 personal illustrations.
But there is a third reason I know I’m human. That is because when it comes to something I would rather not do, I am as good or better than anyone else here coming up with a good excuse. Now if you have brought your sleeping bag and can stay all day and all night, I could give you several illustrations to support that. But one of the best ones to show you how good I am at making excuses and how long I’ve been good at it is when I was a second year student in graduate school. I was very single and extremely satisfied three years before Tammy and I got married. And a classmate of mine asked if I would like a blind date to the Texas State Fair. Now the idea of a blind date did not excite me in the least because a few years earlier I had already had one of those and it was what I often refer to as a mercy mission. I just did it to get another girl off the hook. She had a blind date lined up for a girlfriend of hers and the guy did not come through and she said, "Will you get me off the hook and go out with this girl?" And although we had a delightful evening, when we came back I made a sentence in the Old Testament my theme verse when it came to dating, "Open thou my eyes that I may behold wondrous things." (Psalm 119:18). Therefore, I decided that I did not want any more blind dates.
But obviously, you cannot look at a good friend of yours and just say, "No, thank you." You need a good excuse. So I started to think of a few. I thought to myself, "Why don’t I just say, ’I never met the girl?’" But it suddenly dawned on me that that would not make a good excuse because obviously I did not know the girl. If I knew the girl it would certainly not be a blind date. So I decided that would not work. So I thought more and thought, "I know what I’ll say. I’ll simply say, "I can’t afford it." At that time you had to pay $2 apiece to get through the front gates and going through graduate school I was so poor that while everybody else was taking out the garbage, I was bringing it in. But I knew him well enough to know that if I told him I could not afford it he would just say, "That’s okay, I’ll pay your way for you." So I decided that excuse would not work either. So I thought about it some more and said, "I know what I’ll say. I’ll say I’m just plain flat out too busy and don’t have the time." But the only problem with that was that he was asking me this on a Monday and the date was not to take place until Friday. And I knew if I couldn’t get all my work done by Friday night I’d better get out of the ministry before I ever got in. Furthermore, how many guys in their right mind do you know who after working hard all week hit the books on a Friday night? So it suddenly dawned on me that I did not have a good excuse and I accepted the blind date. That night I met a girl who was both strange and wonderful. So strange that we came to a mud puddle she said to me, "If you were any kind of a man you would lay your coat across that mud puddle and let me walk across." But so wonderful that I have we have been happily married for 36 years. And I now realize that one excuse could have cost me everything that I now have.