Jesus once told a story while eating lunch at the home of a prominent religious leader. He spoke of a generous man inviting many guests to his house for a party.
“…But they all alike began to make excuses…” (Lk. 14:18)
- the invited guests all came up with reasons (excuses) why they couldn’t come:
Lame Excuse #1: MATERIALISM – “I have just bought a field and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.” (Lk. 14:18)
Just plain old “stuff” can keep a person from going to God’s party. Jesus warned about the “…deceitfulness of wealth” that “chokes the Word, making it unfruitful”. (Mt. 13:22) Materialism has always had its stronghold on our spiritual lives but even more so in the 21st century.
“Call the generation $. As a group today’s teens are not just the richest in history – they may also be the sharpest when it come to earning, spending, and even saving money”.
-- USA Weekend
Spending by and for today’s kids tripled during the 90’s and continues to grow. Designer clothes, Prada and Gucci handbags and pricey memberships to health clubs are commonplace among young people in the 21st century. While not evil in themselves material things can get our eyes off Jesus. The motto of the Materialist is “He who dies with the most toys wins”. The follower of Jesus says “He who dies with the most toys just dies!”
Lame Excuse #2: OCCUPATION – “I have just bought five yoke of oxen…please excuse me”. (Lk. 14:19)
Jesus is not saying that we should not find and be faithful at a good job. He’s saying if our occupation occupies to the point of keeping us from His party then we need to beware. Young people today are jumping into the business world faster than ever before. According to Merrill Lynch the number of 12-17 year olds who owned stock rose from 7% to 11% between 1998 and 1999.
It’s good to develop a good work ethic at a young age but we need to be careful that our job or career isn’t a substitute for our walk with Jesus. Sometimes our job can be a stepping-stone and preparation for future ministry for the Lord. William Carey, called the “Father of Modern Missions” and pioneer missionary, got his start as a teenage shoemaker in England before he left for India. Hudson Taylor learned lessons in faith by trusting God to remind his absent-minded boss to give him his weekly paycheck when he worked as a pharmacist’s helper. He went on to open up inland China to the gospel. Our job is to be a “supplement” to God’s plan for our lives not a “substitute” for it!
Lame Excuse #3: RELATIONSHIPS – “ I just got married, so I can’t come.” (Lk. 14:20)
I have seen many young people miss God’s party because of getting entangled in a wrong relationship. Don’t get me wrong! I’m not pushing for a monk-like lifestyle or living alone as a hermit in a cave. God created us to be social beings – relaters to interact with one another in friendship and for that one person – marriage. It is possible, though to be on our way to the party and for someone to divert us away and control if and when we go to the party. No one should control our lives except the Holy Spirit and He always leads us to God’s party.
Any close friend or dating relationship God is leading you into will always be on their way to the party. This doesn’t mean that all our friendships should be with committed Christians. After all Jesus himself was called a “friend of sinners” (Mt. 11:19). It simply means our number one goal in life is to get to God’s party and anyone we meet along the way we should try to bring with us.
God’s party is His plan, His will, His kingdom which the Bible says is “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit…” (Rom 14:17). After these three people gave their three excuses Jesus told His workers to “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame… not one of those that were invited will get a taste of my banquet” (Lk. 14:21-23).
The frustration of the man who threw the party was that He had a “great banquet” and people had come up with all kinds of lame excuses why they couldn’t come. None of these things are necessarily sins – stuff, job, friendships, – but they can still keep us from the party and if we are not going how can we bring other with us? The “poor, crippled, blind, and lame” have no one to bring them!
“…there is still room…” (Lk.14:22)