Our Bible verse for today: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ But they all began making excuses.” Luke 14:16-18 (NLT)
Our thought for today: “Don’t use the gifts from God as an excuse to stay away from God.”
In my devotional reading this morning the author I was reading shared an insight into the parable Jesus told in Luke 14:16-24. It was an insight I had not considered before. In this parable Jesus told of a generous man who prepared a great banquet and then invited people to come and enjoy it with him. The man holding the banquet intended for it to be a time of fellowship between him and his guests. But instead of accepting the invitation, many of the invited guests made excuses instead. They all decided they had other things they wanted to do instead of spending time with the generous banquet-holder.
Jesus intended this story to illustrate how it is that God invites us to have fellowship with Him but many of us come up with lame excuses for not doing so. But here’s the really interesting part of the story: the excuses the people used in Jesus’ parable to get out of spending that time with the generous man, were all based upon blessings from God. One person had been blessed with the purchase of new land and felt he needed to go inspect it instead of coming to the banquet. Another said that he had just gotten married (a spouse is a gift from God) and wanted to stay home with his wife instead of coming to the banquet. And don’t miss Jesus’ real lesson here: The people were using the gifts of God as an excuse for not being with God.
That’s actually pretty common. Just as one example, I once knew a young family in the church I was the pastor of who were guilty of this. They were an attractive, healthy, and active family – Dad, Mom, and four children. They enjoyed outdoor activities together and they would frequently skip church on Sunday in order to go to the beach, or the lake, or the park, or hiking, or to athletic events. Now, family is a gift from God; good health is a gift from God; money is a gift from God; nice sunny days are a gift from God; and there’s nothing wrong with any of those things. But this family regularly combined all those gifts from God and used them as a reason to skip worshiping God with their church family.
In your own mind I’m sure you can think of endless other examples of the same kind of thing. We take the blessings of God and then use them in ways that actually move us away from God.
The blessings of God come to us as a love-gift from our Father in heaven and they’re intended by Him to draw us closer to Him. I encourage you to consider how you’re using the gifts of God in your life. Are they drawing you into a deeper relationship with Him, or are you using some of them in such a way that they are actually leading you away from Him?