The lazy person claims, “There’s a lion out there! If I go outside, I might be killed!” [Proverbs 22:13 (NLT)]
Although ancient Israel did have lions, they rarely wandered the streets and today’s verse about the sluggard who uses preposterous excuses to avoid work reminded me of more than 45 years ago when I regularly hosted a support group for nursing mothers. Among the chairs in our family room was a large La-Z-Boy rocking recliner. On meeting nights, that chair should have been occupied by the mom with infant twins or the woman within days of giving birth but the women who usually made a bee-line for the comfy rocker were the ones I came to think of as “the excusers.” Although they arrived with a litany of new mother complaints and said they wanted advice, they always had a reason why every suggestion wouldn’t work. While not quite as far-fetched as claiming a stray lion was in the road, some of their excuses came close. Perhaps, operating under the mistaken belief that motherhood was undemanding and trouble-free or that their lives weren’t going to change substantially with a baby’s arrival, these young mothers found it easier to wallow in their misery in a La-Z-Boy than to make an effort to solve their problems and find a way to make their new normal work. Apparently, they weren’t familiar with Proverbs 19:20: “Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life.”
While pondering excuses, I wondered if mine are as flimsy as claiming a lion is in the street; we all invent excuses to justify both our actions and inaction. The dog may not have eaten our homework but we often try to exonerate ourselves with equally empty excuses. What ones do we use when we’re opposed to trying something new or we want to rationalize not doing something we should have done? What are our excuses when we haven’t prayed, read Scripture, shared our faith, given generously, been patient, made the doctor’s appointment, studied for the test, paid the overdue bill, exercised, attended church, or treated our neighbor with love? Behind every excuse is a real reason; while it can be laziness, it also can be fear, lack of commitment, immaturity, stubbornness, shame, or pride.
Our excuses might be able to fool others and, sometimes, they may even fool us, but they can’t fool God; He’s heard them all! Jesus didn’t offer flimsy excuses and neither should we!
He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else. [Benjamin Franklin]