How often do we take a step backward when we see someone in need – of something where we can really help if we wanted to – although it would mean going the extra mile? What do we tell them? Do we console ourselves for having “refused” to help with “oh it’s not God’s timing” or perhaps saying “I have to watch out for my bread and butter” or “I can’t do anything to jeopardise my marriage as my spouse won’t understand”?
Yes, we need wisdom and discernment to know what to do in each situation. However how often are we really giving ‘reasons’ as opposed to merely excuses? How often are we putting ourselves first so that nothing comes in the way of our own comfort or safety or peace?
What about when it comes to God? How is our time with God? Do we once again console ourselves with excuses for not spending time with Him, basking in His love, hearing His voice..?
Well, if we are giving God excuses then we can’t expect anything better from ourselves than putting ourselves first when it comes to others. Likewise if someone else is putting themselves first presenting all these glamorous ‘valid’ statements to God, then we can’t expect them to not give those to others too.
How many of us can effortlessly repeat the parable of the Great Banquet?
“A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 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 first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’
“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.
’“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ “
The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’“‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’” – Luke 14:16-24
Meditate on this passage carefully with eagerness on your heart as if you were reading it for the very first time in your life.
In the first verse we see these words – “great” banquet, “many” guests… And still for all, ALL ALIKE began to make excuses. Now if you would ponder on the excuses – well Jesus is clearly calling them excuses – would you classify any of them listed as ‘unreasonable’? Field – could denote both ‘shelter’ or income generation. Oxen – for sure the latter while marriage is simply that! Aren’t they all actions of those who are responsible? Acquiring assets, building up an income and getting married? Well they are excuses – says Jesus, not me! Having said that, what do all those excuses share in common? “I” is emphasised.. or rather it centres around the “I”.
What rattles me is who is invited INSTEAD…So the list is obviously those who are “vulnerable” – the poor and the disabled – or differently abled.. Those who have more limitations than the not differently abled… those who would struggle to make ends meet let alone plan things out. This latter group – the second set of invitees – were those who were ‘dependent’ on others to a certain degree unlike the earlier group who relied on the work of their own hands. They were so busy relying on themselves that they didn’t have time or rather they didn’t make the time for what really counts – relationships.
Jesus sums up the law and commandments into the two greatest commandments.. which centres around love and relationships – love for God and love for each other. When we are self sufficient, we tend to get carried away with “me myself and my own”. However, when we truly lean on God, our heart beats for what makes His heart beat.
Loving God is giving up our self and making choices to walk in the Spirit forgoing the flesh with a determination to stand in victory knowing that the enemy can’t come near to distract if we won’t let him. Loving God is following His ‘commands’. Now look at this ‘command’ that Jesus gives us:
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command – John 15:12-14
Seriously, how many of us can do this? It scares me for sure!
Here are many not willing to give up time or to share assets or forgo reputation or step out of their comfort zone or jeopardise their ambitions because their plans will be spoilt. Imagine laying down one’s life. But that’s the standard Jesus sets. God assures us, those who exalt themselves be humbled and those who are humble will be exalted. The moment we centre our lives around “me, myself and our own”, we become our own little gods, the “I:-dolatry”. God will bring the “I” down. When we humble ourselves into God’s hands, acknowledging He knows best and His ways are not that of the world, then no matter what sacrifice we make, He will bless us in a way that is indeed beneficial for us and in a way where He exalts us.
“No one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: … —along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. – Mark 10:29-30
Oh hang on.. that’s all just for the Bible, for those days and not applicable to us right? These are hard stuff without a doubt..
How many of us are making excuses and declining the greatest invitation of all – that to dine with our Bridegroom? Bear in mind what ‘excuses’ it took to miss out on the greatest banquet. Are you going to be full of yourself or are you willing to be humble and depend on God above?