Vol. 5, No. 4
Priscilla's Page *Editor's Note*
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Anger is a God-given emotion. We know that because the apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians said, "Be angry, and do not sin" (Ephesians 4:26, NKJV). Therefore, there are times when anger is totally appropriate. Anger gains the attention of one whose words or actions have been wrong, hurtful or selfish.
What is anger? Vine's Expository Dictionary says, "originally any natural impulse, or desire, or disposition, came to signify anger, as the strongest of all passions." Webster says, a "strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a real or supposed wrong."
Have you ever noticed what makes God angry? Have you ever noticed that God's response to excuse-making is always anger? Have you ever noticed the biblical accounts where God has given a command to an individual or a group and excuses begin to "fly"? A "so called" reason is offered, but is not a reason at all.
This need we feel to "beg off" as we act in self-interest has been with us for centuries. We first read of Moses and the excuses that he attempts to offer God for why he could not deliver the Israelites from Egyptian bondage in Exodus 3:11-4:10.
Moses had four excuses that in essence were: (1) to whom was he to go; (2) what was God's name; (3) nobody would believe him; and (4) he could not speak well. His real reason was expressed when he said, "Oh my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send" (Exodus 4:13). Can't you hear what he is saying? Lord, send anybody else you want to send, but I do not want to go. The Bible says the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses.
In the parable in Matthew 25:14-30 of the one, two and five talented men, the one talented man offers excuses to his master for his inactivity. He said the master was a hard man, reaping where he had not sown, gathering where he had not scattered seed and he was afraid. Being afraid was probably his real reason for not doing anything. Why didn't the master extend to him the right hand of fellowship and give him another chance? Instead, the master is angry; the servant is called wicked and lazy and cast into outer darkness!
In the parable of the great supper in Luke 14:15-24, an invitation is extended to many and they all with one accord begin to make excuses. The first one says he has bought ground that he has to go see. Who buys a piece of land sight unseen? The second one says he has bought oxen that must be tested. Who buys oxen without knowing if they will work? The third one says he has married. Why couldn't he bring his wife to the supper? These were all lame excuses. Luke 14:21 says, "Then the master of the house being angry, said to his servant, go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor, and the maimed and the lame and the blind." He ends by saying none of those who had been invited would taste his supper.
What is the lesson for us? God knows when we have reasons and he knows when excuses are being made. Solomon warns against excuses: "Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands?" (Ecclesiastes 5:6).
In a sermon that was preached on the subject of excuse making, this definition was given: "An excuse is a skin of a reason stuffed with a lie." Here are a few examples.
We do not feel comfortable eating in someone's home, so we say we are not hungry. We do not want to attend a certain event, so we say we have already made plans. We decline an invitation because we are not comfortable going to that part of town.
Unfortunately, these excuses that we offer to each other have spilled over into our service and worship to God. A couple of illustrations make the point.
We are asked to teach or assist in a Bible class and we say we do not have time when in reality we are not comfortable in our biblical knowledge. We are encouraged to attend all the services and we say we will start, but we really feel no necessity.
If God becomes angry with us, there is a reason. He never gives us an excuse for his displeasure. Let us be diligent in making our calling and election sure and resolve to avoid making any excuses in our service to him. We would do well to remember when Jesus said, "If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin" (John 15:22).