Aug 5, 2009, 2:13 AM
easily we tend to run away from our responsibilities and seek to justify our
actions by offering flimsy excuses, which sad to say, do not put us in very
good light. What is worst, we want to feel good about it. All through life, we
come across competent and capable people hiding behind excuses in a bid to get
away with serious lapses by refusing to own up. They blame their incompetence
to outside forces other than their sheer carelessness, nonchalant attitudes and
It is recorded in the Bible several instances where individuals holding responsible positions have failed to own up to their actions in the execution of their duties. Of course, they always had a scapegoat to point a finger at. Our maiden case refers to Adam in the Garden of Eden. He and his spouse Eve had disobeyed God by eating a fruit from the tree in the middle of the Garden that God had cautioned never to eat of. When quizzed about his actions, ‘Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?’ Adam responded: ‘The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’ (Genesis 3:12)
Eve had not yet been created at the time Adam received the instruction from God. It was Adam who relayed the detail to Eve. We expect therefore that at the time the serpent aroused Eve’s curiosity to taste of the fruit – as he stood close by – he could have intervened to stop her from contravening God’s instruction. No, he did not. In fact he ate of the fruit as well.
As you will observe, Adam was playing the blame game. As head of the family he should have been firm enough and assert his position but he chose to let it go. For failing to do what was expected of him, Mankind has lost its privileged position with God, and was eventually kicked out of the Garden.
God cannot justify wrongdoing. Adam failed in the role and responsibility entrusted to him. His excuse was merely a means of covering up his inaction or insubordination. As heads of families, God has called us to play our roles efficiently without compromise, for the consequences can be far-reaching. A slight slip in exercising our authority -- like in the case of Adam -- has resulted in unfavourable repercussions passed on from generations to generations. Turning a blind eye from our responsibility can be expensive.
Our Second Case
King Saul, the first king of Israel, overstepped his limits when as king he usurped the functions of the priest. (1 Samuel 13:12) The prophet Samuel had given him an appointment at Gilgal but could not get to the site on time. King Saul grew impatient and offered the sacrifice himself; thus assuming the role of the priest. “‘Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offering’ and Saul offered up the burnt offering. Just as he finished, Samuel arrived...” (1 Samuel 13:9-10) All King Saul could give as excuse was that he thought the prophet would not make it after all, so he was compelled to step in his shoes.
The verdict fell. “You acted foolishly, Samuel said. You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, He would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after His own heart and appointed him leader over His people because you have not kept the Lord’s command.” (1 Samuel 13:13-14)
King Saul committed another misdemeanour that became the stroke that broke the camel’s back. He received clear instructions to go and kill all the Amalekites for obstructing the passageway of the Children of Israel on their journey to the Promised Land. “Do not spare them: put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” (1 Samuel 15:3b) King Saul decided to carry out selective or partial obedience.
He failed to observe the instructions to the letter by saving the life of the king and bringing back with him “the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs – everything that was good.” (1 Samuel 15:9) When asked why he disobeyed, he put the blame on his soldiers. For this reason, he was rebuked by the prophet; “To obey is better than sacrifice and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22) Unfortunately for not carrying out the instructions from the Lord through His prophet to the letter, it cost him his throne. “Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has rejected you as king.” (1 Samuel 15:23b)
In God’s kingdom, we do not set the rules. We do not have such a prerogative. We are called to be submissive, in total obedience. We are limited in our knowledge of things and that is the reason why. The Father is unlimited in His scope and the more we listen to Him and take Him at His word, the better it would be for us.
We must remember that if we do not comply with God’s instructions He has other alternatives. As Jesus made His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the people shouted ‘Hosanna!’ ‘Hosanna!’ in jubilation. This did not go down well with the Pharisees (the religious authorities) who asked Him to put a stop to it. The Lord replied: “If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:40) No one is constrained to obey God; we do so out of conviction.
Leaders are chosen by God to do His work, primarily to love and care for His creation not to misuse, maltreat or butcher them. For twenty-two years in the political scene God’s people were silenced. We lost the ability to rise up and speak in the face of stark misuse and abuse of power that led to treachery, immoral and inhuman actions. It seemed no one had the courage to bell the cat. Like Adam and Saul, we made countless excuses out of fear or because we did not want our cosy nests ruffled. We tolerated the status quo rather than denounce the tyrant’s malicious acts.
Where the men cowered, taking shelter in their safe havens not even daring to cry foul, God raised a valiant warrior, our messenger to tell him to the face ‘enough was enough.’ We had no excuse! Our inaction only succeeded in creating a monster we could have done away with from the onset. Thank God for coming to our rescue.
“The sluggard says, ‘There is a lion outside’ or ‘I will be murdered in the streets.’” (Proverbs 22:13)