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Inexcusable excuses

Some of us make plenty of excuses for not being better Christians. In a list of very common examples, Amelia identifies the errors in our logic.
For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, "Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it, that we may hear and do it?" Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, "Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear and do it?" But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.
— Deuteronomy 30:11-14

More often than not, when we're doing wrong, we know it. We usually have plenty of excuses for the ways we fail to live up to God's standards. But when we make these excuses, who is it that we're really trying to convince—God or ourselves?

Here are some examples; you be the judge.

• We worry that appearing "too Christian" might offend our not-so-faithful friends, but we're less concerned about offending fellow Christians and entirely unconcerned about offending God.

• We don't work much toward perfecting our spirituality because we feel like we aren't getting much out of it, yet we're willing to spend hours practicing golf and video games because we know we won't improve without effort.

• Fasting for Holy Communion is difficult and uncomfortable, so we avoid it, but we fast even more strictly for diets and medical tests because we "have to."

• It takes too much time to read a few passages from the Holy Bible each day, but we spend far longer reading blogs, gossip magazines, the news, horoscopes, and email forwards.

• We don't have enough money to share with the church or people who really could use the help, but there's always a little extra in our wallets for pizza, cigarettes, lottery tickets, or unlimited data plans for our cell phones.

• It's too difficult to get dressed up and stand through a two-hour Divine Liturgy, but we rather enjoy dressing up and standing for four hours or more at parties and in nightclubs.

• It slips our mind to thank God when He's been gracious to us, but if we help our friends and they don't give us proper credit or thanks, we're offended.

• At the end of the day, we're very tired when the time comes to say our evening prayers, but we feel a sudden burst of energy if a friend calls or a good show begins on TV.

• We don't like to wake up early for services on Sunday morning, but we have no trouble waking up even earlier to find a good tailgate spot outside the football stadium.

• We don't think it's possible or worthwhile to change our lifestyles to please God, but we constantly monitor what our friends think of us, and we find it very easy to change our ways to impress and please them.

• We're frustrated by all the rules of the Church and the Lord, but we have no problem adhering to the many customs and regulations of fraternities or private clubs, and likewise the social codes where we work, shop, dine, celebrate, or go to school.

• It's difficult to keep quiet during even the shortest of church services, but we can keep absolutely silent during a movie that's two or three times as long, especially when it's chock-full of naked people or graphic violence.

• We're ashamed to confess our sins before a priest, but we find it pleasurable or comforting to reveal them to friends and therapists, especially those who wouldn't call our actions "sins."

• We blame God for "not answering" our prayers, but we only listen for the answers we want to hear, ignoring all the rest.

Despite our many excuses, we really have only two choices-to turn to God or away from Him. Moses has taught us, in short, that excuses are inexcusable.

See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days.
— Deuteronomy 30:15-20