Excuses, Excuses …

Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 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.’”
(Luke 14:16-20)

Scripture makes it clear–all are invited! Unfortunately, few choose to come. And here we have two difficult doctrines–free will and predestination–living side by side. God’s foreknowledge and man’s culpability both presented clearly. To deny either doctrine is to not hold to the truth of all of Scripture. The Bible tells us that we were chosen “in him” and predestined by God to be holy and blameless and adopted as His children through Christ:

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will. (Ephesians 1:4-5)

At the same time, the Bible also makes it clear that Jesus died for all and that the invitation to believe in Him and be saved is extended to all. We are held responsible for either our acceptance or rejection of Christ:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him. (John 3:36)

It is a paradox!

In our parable today Jesus is describing His people, the Jews, who are simply too preoccupied to accept the invitation of the Master of the banquet. Their excuses appear legitimate–a field bought, oxen purchased, and a marriage. And yet these concerns seem inconsequential in light of eternity, do they not? How often we make like excuses from following the call of our Savior. The still small voice that keeps calling out to us we quiet with busyness and a multitude of distractions. We become so preoccupied in all of our busyness that we neglect the most important things–the old “tyranny of the urgent” creeps in. Before you know it, we have wasted a lifetime!

Take It to Heart

In the little two page book of Haggai God states no less than five times: “Give careful thought to your ways.”

In the very first chapter, God begins with:

Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” (Haggai 1:5-6)

Basically, the people’s activities are proving fruitless and unsatisfying. Going about business as usual with no consideration or preeminence to God and their relationship with Him, the Israelites give us insight into our own times. How much fruitlessness and dissatisfaction are you experiencing? God’s chastening of His people turned their hearts back to Him. Lovingly, He disciplined them for their good. We have been given one shot at this life–one. We should have no more excuses.