What would you think if I told you I had a way of making you a millionaire in a month? How about if I knew a way you could lose 25 pounds in one month or a way to make you look younger in one week? If you have any discernment at all you would be skeptical of such promises.
There is, however, one easy way that we can increase our spiritual growth in sanctification and service. It is a rather simple method eliminate excuses! We have all made excuses in our lives. Society around us is filled with them, many of them ridiculous. For example, in New Zealand a woman who drove for 25 years without a license explained to the judge who fined her, "I only drive on roads that have very little traffic. And none of those roads lead to an office where I could apply for a driver's license."
The Bible tells of those who made excuses for not accepting the Gospel. Felix waited for a "more convenient season." (Acts 24:25) Those invited to the great supper had their poor excuses as well. One purchased land and had to go see it-had he not seen the property before he bought it? Another purchased oxen and had to prove them-had he not tried them before he purchased them? One married him a wife and could not come-could he not bring her as well? Who is kidding who? Like the man who says he can't keep awake through a thirty-minute sermon and stays home with his 700- column newspaper, or the man who says Sunday is his only day to rest and gets up at 4:30 a.m. to go fishing. Such excuses can lead one to an eternal Hell. There will be no excuses there!
Then there are those who had an excuse for wrong action, better known as sin. Adam actually shifted the blame to God when he said, "The woman Thou gavest me." Aaron blamed the people and Moses for his sin of making the golden calf. The people were full of mischief and when Moses stayed away so long, they forced him to make them a god! (Ex. 32:21-23)
Saul also blamed the people for his failure to slay all the Amalekites and all of the animals. (I Sam. 15) "The people made me do it." was his excuse, along with the notion that they saved the best of the animals to sacrifice to the Lord. Samuel informed Saul that "Obedience is better than sacrifice," and that he would lose his kingdom because he rejected the Word of the Lord.
Excuses are often used in reference to serving the Lord. The sluggard always has excuses. (Prov. 22:13) When it is inconvenient for us to serve we have our excuses as well-"Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee." (Luke 11:7) The excuses come in great variety. Moses attempted to use his lack of eloquence. Gideon used the social status of his family. Jeremiah claimed his age. Elisha wanted to kiss his father and mother.
Before we become too critical of these men, what has been the nature of our excuses for not serving the Lord? Have we not claimed lack of gift, family status, our families, our careers, etc., as excuses. We have failed to see that the Lord uses "earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. " (2 Cor. 4:7) Often our excuses are no better than those who purchased the land and oxen, and married a wife. At times we even know the foolishness of the excuse as we offer it.
Often our excuses are like those used by a family who argued against God's choice of Sunday as the Lord's Day. "You see, God, it's like this: We would attend church more faithfully if your day came to some other time. You have chosen a day that comes at the end of a hard week, and we're all tired out. Not only that, but it's the day following Saturday night, and Saturday night is one time when we feel that we should go out and enjoy ourselves. Often it is midnight when we reach home, and it is almost impossible to get up on Sunday morning. And you must realize that you have picked the very day on which the morning paper takes the longest to read-the day when the biggest meal of the week must be prepared. We'd like to go to church, and know that we should; but you have just chosen the wrong day."
Then too, like the Pharisees of the Lord's day we have our excuses when it come to sacrificing for the Lord. They claimed their possessions as "corban" so as not to support their parents. (Mark 7:1 1) We have our excuses too for not supporting the Lord's work. There were, however, those who offered no excuses. The Macedonian saints gave out of their poverty. The widow gave her last two mites. The widow of Zarephath gave Elijah her last cake. (I Kings 17:13)
While we may not be able to become millionaires, or lose twenty five pounds in one week, we would make great strides forward in our spiritual service and sacrifice if we would simply eliminate the excuses we often make for our failures or lack of service.