When I played freshman basketball on my high school team, Coach Wade was never interested in hearing excuses. In fact, he had a zero tolerance for the words “I can’t.” I used those words one time and paid dearly. Since then, I’ve had much the same attitude toward “I can’t.”
When I was with the Seagoville congregation to speak at the Fishers of Men graduation banquet, I was also privileged to sit in on their final class session. During this class, I learned that one of the students was a new convert and had attained the highest certificate of completion. This is commendable under any circumstance, but what made this student so special is he can’t read. Six days a week, for ten weeks, this man’s wife read the scriptures and the questions so he could hear and answer. For those unfamiliar with FOM, each student must read hundreds of verses and answer more than 5000 questions over the course of the program. Impressed yet?
Consider this – in earning his Bible Teacher certificate he conducted more than seven one on one Bible studies with someone who is not a member of the church. His prospect? His wife who read him every verse and every question. In addition to his daily homework and the 3 hours devoted to FOM class each week, this new brother in Christ is viewing the Jule Miller videos to gain a better grasp of the basic truths of the Bible! (Note: this man’s wife was not a Christian, but obeyed the gospel not long after the conclusion of the class.)
Another sweet sister shared her story with me. She worked and was raising two grandchildren, ages 7 & 5. Despite her responsibilities, she completed the course and conducted more than twenty Bible studies with non-Christians. She admitted that at the first she wanted to drop out, but just couldn’t bring herself to quit. She said, ‘It wasn’t just the homework and the weekly class, it was the realization that if I went completed the course and received the training, the Lord expected me to do something with it.’ She continued, “I really had my eyes opened to the fact that the fields truly are white unto the harvest.” And with tears in her eyes, she said, “Through all of this I realized more than ever that God is good and he will always provide what we need.”
In my morning FOM class in Jacksonville, one of my students, a stay at home mom with 9 kids still at home, conducted forty studies during the course. She had five cancellations the last week of class, yet still conducted six studies. This is the second time she has taken FOM; the first time she had four prospects to obey the gospel, and another obeyed some years after she studied with him. Others in my classes conducted anywhere from 17 to 29 studies. We are no busier than any of these brethren, so what then is our excuse?
There are a number of Bible accounts where men offered up excuses to God. Adam offered up this lame one – ‘The woman you gave me did give to me and I did eat’ (Gen 3:12) – managing to blame God and Eve at the same time. Moses offered a number of excuses why he wasn’t the man to lead Israel out of Egypt (Ex 3:1-4:17). In Exodus 32:22-24 Aaron offered up this gem – ‘You know how these people are… I just cast their gold into the fire and out came this calf.’ Saul patronized the Lord with this classic – ‘We saved out the best so that we could sacrifice it to the Lord’ (1 Sam 15:20-21).
In His parable of the great supper, Jesus said, “A certain man made 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.” And they all with one accord began to make excuses.” The result? Jesus rejected the excuse-makers, saying, “None of those men who were invited shall taste my supper” (Luke 14:16-18a, 24). The Lord didn’t accept any of these excuses and he will not accept ours.
Instead of excuses, let’s offer the Lord the very best service we can give!