Get Your Buts Out of the Way
Our buts get us in so much trouble. I know there have been many times in my life that I felt like God would have me do something, and I would say, “But God…” God isn’t looking for our excuses; He’s looking for our excellence. My dad, Larry Doggett, used to tell me all the time growing up not to “slop-bop.” Ecclesiastes 9:10 tells us that if we are going to do something, “do it with all of our might.” You know there were many people in the Bible that had the opportunity to make excuses; however, through faith, they rose to the occasion to which God was calling them, and the good Gospel news is we can too! Be encouraged, by looking at these people of the Bible, that we don’t have to live a life full of what if’s and excuses.
Joseph had a dream. He was hated for his dream. He was sold into slavery by his brothers and sent to prison wrongfully. If you study out the life of Joseph in Genesis, you will find that he was excellent in all things wherever he went. In Genesis 39, it talks twice of people who could see his excellence in all things and how he walked with God. Even in prison, they gave him the charge over all the prisoners. He was found excellent and trustworthy in every situation. Eventually, he was brought out of the prison and placed in the palace as second in command in Egypt. He ended up saving the people of Israel, his family – even those that betrayed him, and Egypt from famine.
In Exodus chapters 3 and 4, we see God appearing to Moses in a burning bush. To be honest, I’m not sure what I would do if I heard the voice of God coming from a bush. God wanted to use Moses to deliver the people of Israel from slavery imposed by his adopted family. Moses thought no one would believe him, so God took away his excuses that he gave one by one by giving him signs to prove that he was telling the truth. However, Moses still didn’t feel like he could do what God has asked of him. Moses then told God that he wasn’t good at public speaking. God then told him that He would send Moses’ brother Aaron to help. What if Moses had let his excuses get the best of him? What would have happened to the people of Israel?
Paul went from persecuting Christians to persuading people to be Christians. He was shipwrecked, snake bit, stoned, talked about, and hated. Yet, nothing moved him. He did complain about a thorn in the flesh a couple of times. God’s answer for him is found in 2 Corinthians 12:9 – “But He said to me, My grace (my favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed_ and show themselves most effective in (your) weakness. Therefore I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!”
There are also people who didn’t get their “buts” out of the way in the Bible. I’m reminded of the children of Israel in Numbers 13 when God told them to go and take the promised land. They told themselves that it was everything God had said it would be, but they couldn’t do it because they looked like weak grasshoppers compared to the people in the land where they were going. They ended up wandering in the wilderness for forty more years because of the excuse they told themselves. I also think about the rich young ruler that came to Jesus. He had the opportunity to be one of Jesus’ disciples. However, in Matthew 19, it says that he went away sorrowfully because he had great possessions. Now, God isn’t against us having things, but He is against things having us. Jesus knew this man’s heart. He knew the man was putting his possessions before anything else. When we put anything before God, we make that an idol in our life, and God has clearly said in Exodus, “You will have no other gods before Me.”
Getting our “buts” out of the way and moving to a life of no excuses just excellence will require three things from us. It will require God’s presence. God has designed us for a close relationship with him. In the garden of Eden, He came down every day to talk with man. God isn’t looking for us to spend time with him out of obligation. He is longing for us to have a close relationship with Him. Like a loving father, He is interested in our everyday, grocery shopping, work going, car line sitting lives. Living a life of no excuses will also require the power of God working in our lives. Acts 1:8 tells us, “But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth.” God doesn’t just ask us to line up our lives with His commands and leave us hanging. He also equips us with the power to change and manage those changes. God is also calling us to live a passionate life. Romans 12:11 tells us, “Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord.”