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Excuses, Excuses!

by Skip Heitzig |
I was nineteen or twenty years old when I gave my first Bible study at a church. I had taught in homes before, but not in a church. I was a nervous wreck, and after teaching on Jonah chapter 1, I felt like such a failure. I just thought, This isn't for me. After the service, the pastor came up to me, put his arm around me, and said, "That was so good. I want you to teach on Jonah 2 next week." It was such an encouragement to me.

The truth of that matter is that the Bible is filled with people who failed and yet God still used them to do a powerful work. And I love that of all the people God chose to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, He chose someone who a lot of people would probably consider a big failure--Moses. But here's the rub: as soon as God told Moses what He was going to do, Moses wasn't all that excited. In fact, he gave five different excuses of why he wasn't the right person for the job--and the Lord had five answers in return. Let's take a look at them in Exodus 3-4.

Moses' first excuse was "I'm incapable": "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?" (Exodus 3:11). This might seem humble on Moses' part, but there's a difference between having no confidence at all and having God-confidence. Like the apostle Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). In other words, don't say, "I can't do it," because if God called you to do it, guess what? You can do it. Here was God's response to Moses: "I will certainly be with you" (v. 12). It's not who you are; it's who's with you.

Excuse number two: "I'm unknowledgeable." "Then Moses said to God, 'Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, "The God of your fathers has sent me to you," and they say to me, "What is His name?" what shall I say to them?' And God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM.' And He said, 'Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, "I AM has sent me to you"'" (vv. 13-14). In the rest of chapter 3, God went on to predict the future for Moses. That was His answer: "You're unknowledgeable? I know everything." If you know God, then you can trust Him even when you don't know, can't see, or can't understand, because He knows how it all plays out.

Moses' third excuse was "I'm afraid": "But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, 'The Lord has not appeared to you'" (Exodus 4:1). In reply, God turned the rod in his hand into a serpent (see vv. 2-5). Take this principle to heart: when you place whatever is in your hands--your occupation, the ordinary things you do--into the Lord's extraordinary hands, it can become a mighty, powerful tool. Moses said, "I'm fearful"; God answered, "I'm powerful."

Here's the fourth excuse: "I'm not the right man for the job." In verse 10, Moses said, "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue." So God said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say" (vv. 11-12). Moses was looking at his weaknesses rather than God's strength. It seems that God places a much higher premium on your availability than your ability, especially in the area where you feel the weakest. So if God called you to do it, step out and do it!

Here's Moses' final excuse: "I'm just not going to do it": "O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send" (v. 13). If God tells you to do something and you say, "I don't want to do it; send somebody else," that's being disobedient. The anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses, but then look at what He said: "Is not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well.... I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and I will teach you what you shall do" (vv. 14-15).

I pray that we would throw away our excuses and just go for it, letting the Lord work through us and giving Him the glory. That doesn't necessarily mean you have to serve as a missionary overseas--you can speak into the lives of the people around you right now. Today, let's make ourselves available for the Lord to use as His spokespeople for His glory.

In His strong love,

Skip Heitzig

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