Article: Are you making excuses to God’s call in your life? | Jacob Varghese
We all make excuses sometimes as we do not want to take on responsibilities or face consequences. “I don’t know how”, “I didn’t understand”, “I couldn’t find the right tools” these are some of the common excuses I often hear in our work place. God has a plan for us and He wants us to serve Him right but the feeling of inadequacy is all too common in today’s world. We, as Christians also are vulnerable to feeling inadequate at times. When God calls us to do His ministry, we can find all sorts of excuses not to obey God’s voice: many of us feel inexperienced, unqualified, too young, too old, “It’s the preacher’s job.” “It’s not my gift.” “I’ve already served, let someone else do it”, “I’m too busy or too tired or simply not good enough to be used by God to take the gospel to the nations. Throughout the Bible history, God’s people have often felt ill-equipped to do what God had called them to do. Yet the Lord has used even the most insecure people to accomplish great things for the kingdom.
Jesus has commanded all of us, His followers, to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19–20) In Luke 14:16–20 we see a certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come; for all things are now ready.’ But they all, with one accord began to make excuses. In this story we see three “unspoken” excuses that we still use today for not following the mandate of Jesus. First, a piece of land representing wealth. Second, five yoke of oxen representing employment. Third, a wife representing family. We as followers of Jesus will have to answer to Him someday on why we haven’t participated in His mandate to take the gospel anywhere.
We see in the Bible about Jeremiah, Gideon, Moses, Jonah and many others making excuses to God’s call and commissioning. But God assured them all that He would be with them. They ultimately gave up on their excuses to follow and obey the Lord. Think about the excuse of Jonah! In Jonah 4:1-3 we see, “But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” Jeremiah was called to be “a prophet to the nations” (Jer. 1:5), not as a priest like his father and his grandfather. “But Jeremiah protested, ‘Oh no, Lord, GOD! Look, I don’t know how to speak since I am only a youth'” (Jer. 1:6). Here the Excuse is my talent is Inadequate. When Gideon was called- The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” But you see what excuse Gideon is making- “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
Exodus Chapters 3 & 4 tell us about the meeting Moses had there in the desert with God. God heard the cry of His people and descended to save them from slavery. He called Moses from the midst of a bush on mount Sinai and told him, how He would provide deliverance to His people in Egypt. God is concerned about His people in Egypt and their suffering. God wanted to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians. So, in the story we see, God is commanding Moses to do something. The command was clear. There was no doubt about what God was telling Moses to do. But Moses came up with some convincing reason or excuses to avoid the responsibility. Moses was trying to say why he was not suitable for God’s call.
In Exodus 3:11, we see Moses’ initial reaction to God’s Plan. “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” He was trying to say “I am a nobody”. How interesting, isn’t it? All his early years he had been a somebody, the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter. Now he sheltered behind
the excuse that he is a nobody. But God said in reply to Moses, “I will be with you”. By himself, Moses was inadequate and that was right for him to feel that way. It is not our adequacy is important but simply whether God is with us or not, that is important. Again, in verse 13 we Moses is coming up with a second excuse. Though God said I will be with you, Moses is not so easily convinced. He tells God quickly that he does not know enough to do the job. He is saying that’ “If I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you’ and they ask me, ‘what is his name?’ what should I tell them?”. I remember an excuse I made in my life that I do not have good enough grasp of theology as I do not have any Bible Training. Here Moses is playing a “just suppose” game like many of us. Here again Moses is not excused. God had an answer for Moses. God said “I am who I am”. No matter how good our theology is, how well we know apologetics? People will only be convinced by our witness to Christ. If people see that we have met Jesus for ourselves, our first task as Christians is to witness to the living Christ, not to explain complicated Theology.
In Exodus 4:1 we see Moses still has a problem. He is telling I am afraid of failure. Here he is telling God ‘What if they do not believe me or to me and say, the Lord did not appear to you.’ Fear of failure can always make us calm up when we feel we should speak out for God. Though God has already promised Moses, “They will listen to what you say”, still Moses protested. Again, the Lord countered Moses’ excuse. If the people did not take Moses seriously, they would take seriously the three powerful signs God promised to perform through Moses. What God is actually telling Moses is that the answer to the fear of failure is simple- do not underestimate the power of God. Even after seeing all these miracles/signs, Moses is telling that he is not gifted for the job as a spokesperson. Here the excuse is I have not got the gifts/abilities. Moses said to the Lord, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” Only thing Moses did not realize that God never calls a person without equipping him/her to achieve the task. In response to Moses’ excuse, God is telling him- ‘I have designed and created your mouth so I can certainly make it eloquent when I want to.’
Moses tried all his excuses, God was not convinced so at last the truth is out- God, I do not want to go, send someone else. I am not willing to go; I don’t want to do this (v.13). This is usually the real issue for most of us, isn’t it? We are simply not willing to step out in faith and obey God. God’s patience has been tested full. Finally, God get angry with him. None of us want God angry with us. But even in His anger, God is gracious. He does not let Moses escape his commission but offers the companionship of his brother Aaron who can do the talking for him.
How about us? I know we are very skillful at the art of making excuses, aren’t we? “Just like Moses, we all have many excuses to say when confronted with the same challenge. When God selects people to serve His purposes, He always provides His resources to be successful. Are you making excuses to God’s call in your life? When God calls us, we must not make excuses, but rather, with all readiness, we must say, “Here I am.”