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Excuse You?

“Excuse me!” - a very useful and polite phrase.

It’s good, if you inadvertently step in front of someone, to ask that they excuse your intrusion. Sometimes, though, we use the phrase as a substitute for doing what we should. Rather than politely walking around two people in a conversation, it’s easier to walk between with an “excuse me” tossed out as a free pass for the rudeness.


Even more dangerous is the temptation to use more elaborate versions of “excuse me” to avoid responsibilities. A friend keeping someone’s child, asked the little boy to pick up the pieces of the puzzle he was playing with. The kid’s response: “I’m sorry I can’t; I have allergies.”


Allergies? To what - the puzzle, or to work? Apparently, he’s not allergic to making excuses.


Jesus told a parable about some people who came up with excuses. One couldn’t attend a banquet because he had just purchased some land he needed to look over. “Please excuse me,” he said.


Another couldn’t make it to the party because he had some new tools he needed to experiment with so he too said, “Please excuse me.”


A third had the best excuse. “I just got married, so I can’t come” (Luke 14:20).


Are these good excuses? Jesus found them flimsy. The problem was that the banquet they refused represented God’s kingdom, In the parable, the master of the banquet invited others and forever excluded those who had made excuses (Luke 14:24).


You’ve heard similar excuses about participating in church. I don’t have time. I have to work. There are hypocrites there.


But excuses are dangerous. They can leave us cut off from God and excluded from his family. As someone said, “We can make excuses or we can make progress, but we cannot make both.”


Perhaps we should avoid excuses altogether. John Foppe, born with no arms, went on to earn a master’s degree in Social Work, and became a successful motivational speaker and author. He writes: “Every day, I face dozens of challenges. Have you ever driven a car using only your feet? Have you ever tried to dress yourself without using your hands? I have learned to cope with such challenges in innovative ways-and I hope, with an abiding courage to take risks, perseverance, and a well-developed sense of humor. Surely if I can find solutions to the practical problems I face, you can too!


The title of Foppe’s book is What’s Your Excuse. Do I really have one?


Father, forgive me for making excuses.


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