Children are good at coming up with excuses for not doing what they are told to do or for not carrying out a task by following precise instructions. However, adults are not that much different. We have a few impressive examples of this in the Bible which also show the consequences for such behavior.
The first is the example of King Saul. He was instructed by God to attack wicked and cruel Amalek and kill man, woman, children plus the animals, as we read in 1 Samuel 15:3: “‘Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”
What did he do? Verse 9 tells us: “But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.”
What was his excuse for his disobedience?
“And Saul said, ‘They have brought them [the sheep and oxen] from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen, to sacrifice to the LORD your God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed’” (1 Samuel 15:15).
He blamed it on the people and took no responsibility for what happened. What was the consequence? Samuel told him in 1 Samuel 15:23: “‘For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.’”
Being replaced as king was the price for his refusal to carry out God’s orders. His weak excuse was to blame the people but as the King, he was ultimately responsible.
It is important to do what God asks and requires of us.
Let us assume that an owner of a business tells an employee to paint the floor in the shop. Later he checks on how the task is progressing. The employee tells him that he painted the walls and the doors, repaired some of the lights and replaced a window. “What’s your excuse for not painting the floor?”, the employer asks. The man answers he thought the other things were more important and that the employer would be impressed by what he had done. The owner replies: “That’s nice that you did all that but you did not paint the floor as I ordered you to do, so you are fired.”
Sometimes people get all caught up in what they think is a priority and ignore clear instructions which they had received.
Let us look at what may seem to be a strange statement by Christ to a group of individuals.
Matthew 7:21 records Christ’s words: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’”
They thought they were followers of Christ, pointing out the “good deeds” they had performed, but what was Christ’s response? “‘And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:23).
This may seem like a pretty harsh response, but why do you suppose He said this? In what respect did they fail?
Matthew 24:14 tells us: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
This is where their focus should have been. Their excuse was that they felt other things were more important, but that was not acceptable to Christ, and as a consequence, He told them to depart from Him.
Our individual responsibility is to support the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom of God among all nations as a witness, and if we fail in this task, we fail completely. None of the excuses we may present for not doing what Christ has clearly told us to do will be acceptable.
Let us put the excuses aside and remain focused on the job at hand so that we will be in a position to receive our crown at Christ’s return.