At a meeting the other night there was a brief discussion about the need for better communication about upcoming events. As sometimes can happen in any group, there had been some lack of communication – or as the old saying goes, “the left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing”.
The discussion wasn’t a “blame game” and no one in the group was on the “hot seat”, but there was a sense that in recent months, all of us involved had sometimes neglected to keep one another informed about things that mattered. I offered a possible excuse for that, namely, that for the last year and a half, Covid has kept us apart. That is, we haven’t been meeting (or even seeing one another) in person on a regular basis and each of us has been living in a bubble – at least to some extent, only going out when necessary, only meeting (or even communicating) with one another occasionally. I do think that the pandemic has played a role in keeping us all confined within our own “small group” of family and/or friends and it has been a “reason”, perhaps a “good reason” for failing to communicate with others, to care for others and to bless them.
But later, after the meeting was over, I was thinking about that issue and discussion and pondering whether or not that “reason” was actually a “good excuse” or even an “excuse” at all. Or was it “just a reason”.
There’s always a reason for what we do or don’t do. We don’t even move our hands or feet or body in random motions; we move them for a reason. We don’t open our mouth and say something to those around us just to make noise; we feel we have something to say. (And if we keep quiet and say nothing, we have a reason for that, as well)
There’s always a Reason for what you or I or anyone does or doesn’t do. And that applies not only to basic aspects of living – to eating, sleeping, working, relaxing etc. – but also to how we live as Christ-followers, how we live in service to God and to one another. We have a “reason” (or “reasons”) for worship, for prayer, for showing kindness and love, for giving of our time, talent or treasure. And we have “reasons” for sometimes NOT carrying out those activities. We have our reasons for anything and everything that we do or don’t do in our life of faith. But are those reasons an excuse for what we do or don’t do?
I’m not going to try to give you a list of “good” or “not good” excuses for what you do or don’t do as a “disciple” of Christ. I can’t even make a comprehensive list like that for myself, much less for you. But I do know that from time to time, I need to measure my faithfulness (or lack of faithfulness) to my Savior with questions like this: “Tim, I know you had a reason for that less than kind word or action, but what’s your excuse for saying or doing that” or “Tim, I know there was a reason why you spent the whole afternoon doing (fill in the blank) instead of keeping the promise you made to (fill in the blank). Was that an excuse? Or just a reason?”
None of us are perfect. And we have no right to expect perfection of ourselves, any more than we have the right to expect it of anyone else. But we can and we should expect honesty; we must all ask ourselves from time to time, “Why am I not more faithful in following Christ? More loving, kind, patient, etc.?” I always have a reason. There’s always a reason for everything that you and I do or don’t do. But is it an excuse, a good excuse – or just a reason?