I’ve become aware recently of a great trend that has no doubt been part of the American church for a long time. It’s the making of irrelevant and meaningless excuses.
The other day, I was counseling with a man who had managed to get himself addicted to a particular brand of sin. I’ll call him Bob for convenience sake. Bob and I were discussing some of the action that he needed to take if he was going to free himself from his sin. To be fair, the course of action was a challenging one, but he and I both agreed that it was necessary if he was going to get free. And then he pulls out the excuse from hell:
“But that’s so hard!”
When I hear that excuse – and I hear it often – I groan inside. Bob’s right, of course: it will be difficult. But then it’s a difficult task he proposes: extricating himself from persistent sin to which he has been enslaved for some time.
The problem with that excuse is that it’s true, but it’s irrelevant. Yes, it is a difficult road he proposes, but so what? The choice, contrary to Bob’s evaluation, is not between “that which is hard” and “that which is not hard.” Rather, it’s between “continued enslavement” or “freedom.” Freedom, by nature, requires hard choices.
Both roads are difficult, of course, but our flesh is eager to agree with the enemy that the road to freedom is hard. The devil is not particularly forthcoming when it comes to acknowledging the trials of enslavement or addiction.
I’ve come up with a response – for my own amusement – to those excuses: TBI: True But Irrelevant. I’m fascinated by the number of times we come up with excuses to obedience that are true, but completely irrelevant to the heart of the matter.
Recently, I was talking to a businessman who is faced with some challenging circumstances in his business; I’ll call him Henry. He has some tough decisions to make if his business is going to make it past its current challenges. Recently, Henry made some decisions that represent something of a moral compromise; not a big one, but they mean that he’ll break his word to some people who count on his truthfulness. We were talking about his business, and I brought this up. His was to explain why he “needed” to make this compromise and why it wasn’t really that bad. “I didn’t have any choice! We have a problem in the company!”
Yes, it's true, Henry does have that problem in his business, and yes, this morally compromised decision will help solve some of those problematic symptoms in his company. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a moral compromise: Henry is still breaking his word. He’s still betraying a trust, and this decision will make it harder for his staff to believe his word in the future, and I believe it will distance his business from God’s blessing.
I’m making the choice in my own life to attempt to escape this trap, to not offer irrelevant, self-centered excuses to the things that my relationship with Christ require. I’m going to attempt to deal with the issues of what is required of me, by God, by the people around me, by my circumstances.
You can pray for me.