SCRIPTURES Judges 9-10 Luke 14: 1-24
It might surprise you to learn that one of my favorite television shows is the one called THE BIGGEST LOSER. Each season morbidly obese people are selected from across the country and given an opportunity to go through rigorous physical and dietary restrictions for the purpose of gaining a new image. Viewers witness the pain and agony involved in each contestant as they submit to discipline as never before.
The current season has a theme called “No Excuses”. Each week a familiar excuse is addressed: “I can’t lose on vacation..It runs in my family…I’m too busy, etc. As the season progresses, hundreds of pounds have been shed as the contestants face up and overcome their hollow excuses.
My pleasure in watching this show, I think, is born out of my sometimes lack of control regarding diet. I often excuse late night grazing as a way to ease stress. After all, I work hard trying to make life better for others. Don’t I deserve a bit of over indulgence. Nonsense! I am relieved of my own excuses as I have watched obese contestants face their own excuse demons.
The Bible is replete with verses that condemn excuse making. Paul remarks to the Romans. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” On one occasion Jesus indicated that “he who judges another is without excuse.”
I am sure that most of us would have to admit that there have been times, in an attempt to rationalize our behavior, that we have pulled an excuse from our arsenal of defense.
In Luke 14, we find Jesus dining on the Sabbath in the home of a prominent Pharisee. In the ensuing conversation, the matter of who will be allowed to eat at the great feast of the kingdom. Jesus replied: A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet, he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, “come for everything is now ready.” But they all alike began to make excuses…
The Church remains the largest and most significant volunteer organization in the world. For the church to be effective, much is required of us who are declared members. Excuses for non-involvement must be dealt with in all of us.
As a young person, new in my faith, I committed the lyrics of a chorus to memory. I caught myself singing it once again the other day. My short term memory has begun to give me trouble, but this sixty year old chorus remains firmly affixed in my mind. It goes like this:
After all He’s done for me, after all he’s done for me,
How can I do less than give Him my best and live for Him completely.
After all He’s done for me.
The closer I look at Jesus, the more I see that He was unswerving in completing the task that He came to earth to fulfill. I often wonder what was in Jesus’ mind when He prayed, “If it be thy will, let this cup pass from me…” Was there a fleeting moment when he wished for an easier way? After all, He could have called ten thousand angels, but opted to face the Cross.
Our church in Murphysboro, Illinois presently faces some major challenges. Our pastor of nineteen years is being called to another field of service. This will bring about changes in the nature of our church. Many people will be faced with the privilege of taking more responsibility. We will be guided through a transition time in the process of placing a new ministering family.
We will be called on to minimize any excuses we might raise in order to see God’s Glory remain visible among us.
Those in our text who were invited to the banquet offered only excuses for their absence. “I have married a wife.” I have bought an oxen. He must be tried.” “I have bought a piece of real estate. I cannot come.”
What’s your excuse for not being all that God has called you to be? What’s mine? Let’s prayerfully look to the days ahead and rise to the challenge. Together let’s see what great things God has in store for us. NO EXCUSES!