Excuses.  As a teacher I have a heard a few.

We have a train near our campus.  You have to be approaching the campus from one specific direction to actually get stopped by the train, but it is a convenient excuse for those students who go nowhere close to the tracks but had the misfortune of hitting the snooze one too many times that morning.  Likewise, they are doing construction on the interstate right now, but somehow kids who come into town nowhere near the interstate think they too can use the construction as an excuse when running late.  Evidently, according to some kids, cellphones that are never to be seen, heard or used during the school day can be answered without consequences if it is a parent calling.  A student is apparently not responsible for directions that were missed when they were talking to a neighbor when they shouldn’t have been.  Oh, and “my printer is broken” is the new “my dog ate my homework.”

You have probably heard even better ones.  Care to share?

I can’t be too hard on students.  I make excuses too and, if I am honest, about more significant matters than tardiness, cellphones, or homework.

  • I don’t have to sign up for the prison ministry because I do ministry in other ways.
  • I don’t have to give as much because I don’t make as much.
  • Evangelism is not my gift.
  • Hospitality is for people with big houses.
  • I taught class, I don’t also have to go meet the visitors; I am not a conversationalist.
  • Others need to sign up instead.
  • I am tired.
  • Someone else will go cook the meal for the homeless.
  • He had it coming.
  • It is not really speeding.

Of course, we can’t do it all.  Of course, there is legitimacy to some part of all of those excuses; we are too smart to just outright lie to ourselves and believe it.  Nonetheless, we know how to use an excuse to get ourselves out of doing the very things we know deep down we should do.  We hate when people give us paltry excuses for being unreliable or outright unfaithful.  Yet, we do the same.

Lord, forgive us!

“Excuse” is the big word in today’s reading as well (9:90, 94×2).  This surah comes at the point where Islam has come to blows with the paganism rife throughout Arabia.  To survive and expand the Muslims will have to “strive” against the pagans even to the point of battle.  All able-bodied Muslims were to respond to the call.  The weak, infirmed and poor were not.  To “whom much has been given, much is required,” to quote Jesus.  Some of those who were not fit to fight even cried because they could not provide a horse for the soldiers who were going to fight.  That’s the right attitude.

However, there were others.  They claimed it was too hot out (9:81).  They thought their wealth could excuse them from going (9:86).  They just flat thought that asking them to fight was too big an “imposition” (9:98).  God has no patience for excuses:

They are loathsome, and Hell will be their home as a reward for their actions (9:95).

Lord, forgive us!

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