We offer a lot of excuses in life. We don’t exercise because of time limitations. We don’t eat healthy because it’s too expensive or inconvenient. We don’t keep in touch with family because of geographical distance. The list is exhaustive when it comes to the excuses for not doing things we know we should.
Unfortunately, it’s no different in relation to our walk with Christ. Just consider some of the excuses I have heard in my time in ministry concerning church absence:
- My alarm didn’t go off (it helps if you actually set it).
- I got to bed late last night (the ball game or concert the night before was awesome though).
- I wasn’t feeling well (could have something to do with the triple coating of hot sauce on the wings).
- The weather was bad (but it cleared up in time to get in 9 holes in the afternoon).
- I was too tired from the dog show I went to on Friday and Saturday (Hey, I’m sure God doesn’t mind coming in second….to your dog).
- God doesn’t say I have to be at church every time the doors are open.
- I work “x” amount of hours during the week and Sunday is my only day to rest/sleep in.
- I have to work to provide for my family; that’s Biblical.
- I don’t feel welcome any more.
- I don’t know anyone there.
- I don’t like the music, the pastor, the worship time, etc.
- I have my own church service at home.
- Church is too long.
And no, I’m not kidding either. And these are just the ones I’ve heard this week. Now I’m kidding. (Just FYI, I have NEVER asked anyone where they were in relation to missing a Sunday service. Followed up to say they were missed, yes. Making sure everything is ok after a couple weeks of absence, of course). The information obtained above is freely offered from a guilty conscience. Not towards their Pastor, but towards their Savior. And not just because they missed a service or two; it’s much deeper than most realize.
It comes down to giving God our absolute best, and when we give an honest evaluation of what we’re giving God, our absolute best is nowhere to be found. We give the best of our time and energy to our job. We give the best of our attention and thought to our hobbies or entertainment. We give the best of our money to our comfort, convenience and preference. We give the best of ourselves to the least of this world. And when we give our best to everything else, what’s left over? Not much. The dregs; the bottom of the barrel. The crumbs. The remnants. The fumes. Henry Blackaby said, “You do not serve Him in your spare time or with your leftover resources…Relentlessly pursue holiness so that your offering to God is unblemished and acceptable to Him.”
Blemish means “spotted; stained”. The phrase “without blemish” occurs 52 times in Scripture with 50 of them occurring in the Old Testament. ALL of the Old Testament references relate to God’s direct instruction to the condition of the sacrifices the people were to give Him. God clearly wanted the very best. Nothing marred. Nothing broken. No damaged goods. Simply the best. It’s what God commanded then and still commands today (1 Pet.1:16). God commands our very best because it’s what God gave (1 Peter 1:13-19; John 1:29; 19:36; Ps. 34:20). God gave His very best for our very worst (Rom. 5:6-8).
So when we go to church, read our Bible, pray, witness, teach, preach, serve, tithe, etc. when we feel like it, or don’t do those things because we don’t feel like it; when we offer our excuses for disobedience, we’re not giving King Jesus our very best. We’re offering Him a blemished, spotted, stained sacrifice. We’re giving God our leftovers and saying, “This will have to do”. I’m certain God isn’t ok with that.