When our kids were growing up, we lived near a zoo — near enough that we could sometimes hear the peacocks screeching while we were lying in bed at night and the city was quiet.
At that time the zoo was free, and I would take the kids down there on cold, winter afternoons when no one else was around. We’d wander through the monkey house or watch the frolicking otters.
Then one day a wolf had babies and the babies somehow escaped. Not sure how it happened – but I think they got through a hole in the fence. The trainers quickly discovered that the babies were missing and an alert went out to the town that baby wolves were running around,
These wolves were small – maybe a few weeks to a month or so old. The trainers and news-reporters were not concerned that the wolves would hurt humans, but rather that humans would hurt the wolves. (The adult wolves were still in captivity.)
The next day my son’s class was having a big exam. His friend had been complaining about the exam for days and that morning the friend called and said he wasn’t going to school. His mother was afraid he’d be attacked by a wolf.
Immediately I thought of this verse that isn’t exactly about wolves, but … well, you get the point.
The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road! There is a lion in the streets!”
No baby wolf was going to attack a seventh grader in the 30 seconds he walked from his house to the car. Seriously. And actually by the time school started, all baby wolves had been caught.
But it was a good excuse.
The baby wolf story is kind of funny. However we live in a culture of not-so-funny excuse making.
Of course, this isn’t new. Excuse-making started back in Genesis with Adam …
The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”
Though now we seem to see excuse-making in pandemic proportions.
*A man in Florida excused his horse for breaking into someone’s house. Yep – the horse did it. The man was arrested. The horse wasn’t.
*A man in South Dakota excused his own carelessness in a sledding accident because he ran into a ditch. (He blamed the city.)
*Parents excuse their child’s behavior for a multitude of reasons.
John Wooden had a great reaction to excuse making. If a player missed a shot, he didn’t want to hear about someone else knocking into him and spoiling his aim. If a player was late for practice, he didn’t want to hear about the buses running behind schedule. If his team lost a game, he didn’t want to hear any grumbling about the referee. Mistakes and defeat were acceptable, but blame was not: “You aren’t a failure until you start to blame,” he repeatedly told his players.
We also blame others and make a lot of excuses for ourselves …
*Non-believers make the excuse that the Bible is a myth (although all prophecies have come true … except for those prophesied for the future) or that they once knew a Christian who was a hypocrite (no one is perfect, that’s why we need the Lord in the first place). Non-believers also make the excuse that they’re too busy to trust Christ right now, that they don’t want to quit having fun (hunh?), or they’ll do that later when they understand it better.
*Christ-followers make excuses. “I can’t serve because I have to make my kids’ lunches, or I’m too tired, or my kids are grown and now it’s someone else’s turn to serve.
*Or even the more basic church-attender excuses: The auditorium is too hot, too cold, too drafty. People are too friendly, not friendly enough. I don’t like the pastor’s clothes, the music, the worship leader’s laugh. You name it, someone has used it as an excuse for not showing up.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20)
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24)
We don’t usually have a lion running around in front of our houses … or even a baby wolf … but we do have a tendency to make excuses.
Instead — we should do what we do heartily, joyfully, and unto the Lord.
Let’s go through the day (and the week) not blaming others or making excuses for ourselves.