But Mom, everyone else is doing it! My printer broke [modern version of the dog ate my homework]. I couldn’t help it!
Nothing will hinder our growth as a Christian more than making excuses for our sins and weaknesses. We live in a world of self-justification. We breathe it in the air. There’s always someone or something else to shift responsibility to or blame. But there is never a justified excuse to disobey the commands of God.
Consider the Recabites, a tribe in Israel who had promised their forefather, Jonadab, two things: to always live as nomads (outside the cities) and to abstain from wine….
The year is around 600 BC and the Babylonians are bearing down on Israel. The Recabites have temporarily relocated in Jerusalem to escape the ruthless Babylonian armies. While there, the Lord sends Jeremiah to offer them safety in one of the side rooms of the temple. There, he offers them cups of wine. Compounded by the threat of foreign invasion, excuses to disobey God are saturating the culture; it would have been “understandable” if the Recabites had taken Jeremiah up on his offer. I mean, what’s the big deal about a drink of wine?
But they did not renege on their commitment. They stayed true to the commands they had been given. Despite precarious circumstances. Despite rampant compromise. Despite that a prophet of God himself was proposing the toast! They kept their promise. And because of such stellar faithfulness, God used them as an example to the whole nation (Jeremiah 35:17).
The Recabites serve as a model for us as well. They remind a generation characterized by broken promises and unprecedented faithlessness that disobedience has no excuse. We will never find good enough reasons to harbor resentment toward those who hurt us—no matter how justified our complaints. We’ll not discover new grounds to cheat on our taxes—no matter how bad the economy. And even if all our friends and family members compromise, make no mistake…
But God, everyone else was doing it isn’t going to fly on judgment day.