The ‘But’ of It All

We’ve all been guilty of them. We’ve allowed our minds to reason our way to them. We have used them to avoid situations or responsibility. We’ve used them to mask issues that we did not want to discuss. In some cases, using them involves telling a lie. Maybe we just didn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, or felt someone wasn’t quite ready to handle the truth. In either case, we turn to these as little saviors in the midst of life’s demands. We use them to explain why we haven’t made any progress, why we haven’t pursued our dreams, and why we fall short of God’s standard of living. We call them: excuses. We make excuses to validate ourselves. To excuse mediocrity and avoid owning up to the fact that if we’d been serious about what we had originally set out to do, we could have accomplished it.

Excuses are dangerous because by using them we excuse ourselves right out of victory. Was it an excuse that kept you in that relationship longer than you should have stayed? Did you use an excuse to explain why you did not perform as well as you could have? Do excuses keep you from budgeting your money properly so that you can climb out of debt? Excuses are a powerful weapon that the enemy uses against us.

I could have, but…

I meant to, but…

I wanted to, but…

I said “No,” but…

If we are not careful, excuses will abort our opportunities. What kind of excuses have you made lately?

Excuses are not a recent invention. There are several accounts in the Bible in which people used excuses to validate the decisions that they made. Remember Adam and Eve eating from the tree (See Genesis 3:1-13)? What did they do when God confronted them about it? Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent. Neither of them owned up to what they did.

The text for this devotional is found in Haggai. In this passage, the people of Judah have returned from exile. Before the exile occurred, the Babylonians destroyed the temple of God (See Lamentations 1:10). If we fast-forward a little bit, Persia overthrows Babylon, and the Persian king gives the people money and materials to return to Judah and rebuild the temple. The message of the prophet Haggai is that God wants the people to rebuild the temple. So, the people take the money and materials, and return to the land. But what do they do instead? They built their own houses! Here is the passage:

“This is what the LORD Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come for the LORD’s house to be built.'” Then the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” ~ Haggai 1:2-4

The people were given the money and supplies needed to rebuild the temple. Still, they made the excuse that it was still not time for the temple to be rebuilt. I love the way the prophet got to the point of God’s message, basically asking them: Is it time for you to live in beautiful mansions while God’s temple remains in ruins? Somebody must have said “ouch” on that one. The people excused themselves out of rebuilding God’s house in the same way that we excuse ourselves out of doing what God has asked of us.

I have one question for you: What do your excuses reveal about your priorities?

I would spend more time with God but…
I would make time for my husband or wife, but…
I would pay this overdue bill, but…
I would say ‘Yes,’ but…

Excuses reveal a lot about us. When people use excuses with me, it shows me how they prioritize me in their lives. At some point, we need to stop making excuses and own up to the decisions that we make.

I can only wonder what would have happened if Jesus made excuses while hanging on the cross. God, I love these people, but…

I am so grateful that he carried out his assignment to the end, offering a pathway to eternal life for all who might believe and follow him. I’m so glad that God did not make an excuse instead of offering his only son for us. Think about it. God’s priority was clear. It was clear when he created man and woman, and remained clear when he redeemed the human race. He has never excused himself out of loving us.

I challenge you today. Consider the excuses you have made and what they reveal about your priorities. It is so easy to lose track of where our priorities are. My prayer is that we will lose the “but” and stop making excuses.

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About SheridanRichards

Many companies have policy and management challenges. I've met many people who have started nonprofits, but don't know how to manage or fund them. I can assist you with strategic planning and executing your big vision. I have over a decade of leadership experience and a strong track record in organizational development, human resources management, and fund development. I've worked with teams to build organizations from the ground up, expand donor bases, and raise three-quarters of a million dollars. I know what works. You will save time and energy if you hire me to assist you. I provide solutions in: Nonprofit Management, Organizational Development, Board Development, Fund Development Strategies, Community Engagement, Administration, Strategic Planning, Budgeting, Process Mapping, Policy Development, Human Resources Management, Benefits, Classification, Compensation, Employee Relations, Recruitment, Risk Management, Training. Contact me for a free 30-minute consultation. View all posts by SheridanRichards

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