All too often, people make excuses to avoid doing the Lord’s work. We need to take an honest evaluation of our own personal involvement in the work of evangelism and be sure we are not using excuses to neglect our duties.
One of the greatest examples of excuse-giving is presented in Exodus chapters 3 and 4 when God called Moses to lead the people of Israel out of Egyptian bondage. We can learn a lot from God’s responses to Moses.
God called Moses’ attention to the suffering of the Hebrew slaves, saying, “‘Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt’” (Exodus 3:9-10). How did Moses react to God’s call? Did he feel honored that God had chosen him to be the one to deliver the people? “But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?’” (Exodus 3:11).
Inspiration reveals that Moses was a humble man, “more than all men who were on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3). If this was the only objection Moses offered, perhaps we could view it simply as him not seeing himself worthy of this opportunity. As we continue to examine these events, though, we see that it is not humility that prevents Moses from accepting the task immediately.
God’s response to the first excuse is found in Exodus 3:12: “So He said, ‘I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.’” Didn’t Christ say the same thing when He commissioned the apostles in Matthew 28? “‘Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen” (Matthew 28:19-20). When God commands us to do something, He expects us to obey, but He is not going to turn His back on us in the process. Moses, go to Pharaoh! Christian, go into all the world!
“Then Moses said to God, ‘Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,” and they say to me, “What is His name?” what shall I say to them?’” (Exodus 3:13). Moses is basically saying that he doesn’t know enough about God to answer the Israelites’ questions about Him. But God reassures His prophet, “And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you”’” (Exodus 3:14).
God tells His prophet, “You don’t know the answer? I’ll tell you!” We need to accept the fact that God’s “divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). Anything that you need to know has been revealed by inspiration! “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Is evangelism a good work? Yes! Guess what? God has given us the Scriptures to equip us to evangelize!
“Then Moses answered and said, ‘But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, “The Lord has not appeared to you.”’” (Exodus 4:1). God promised to perform signs through Moses to encourage belief: turning his rod into a snake (4:2-5), turning his hand leprous and restoring it (4:6-8), and turning water into blood (4:9).
Moses demonstrates a fear of rejection, and that is a legitimate fear that we must face still today. Many of the people we talk to about the gospel will not believe. But we do have evidence for the veracity of the gospel, and we have the signs recorded in the Scriptures. “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31). Faith comes through hearing the Word (Romans 10:17); let us do our part in spreading that Word!
Jesus recognized that some would not accept the truth. He told the twelve when He sent them out initially, “And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet” (Matthew 10:14). If they don’t want to hear it, take it to someone else who does. There are people in the world that want to know the truth; the Lord needs His people to take the truth to them.
“Then Moses said to the Lord, ‘O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since you have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue’” (Exodus 4:10). I don’t have the ability to do what you are asking me to do, God. “So the Lord said to him, ‘Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say’” (Exodus 4:11-12).
There is a saying that God does not call the qualified, but He qualifies the called. All Christians are called to share their faith, and through His Word all Christians are qualified to do just that! It is not our ability that will convert a lost soul to Christ, but the power of God that resides in His gospel (Romans 1:16). Paul wrote, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).
Moses’ final appeal is found in Exodus 4:13: “But he said, ‘O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.’” In essence, Moses is saying flat-out, “I don’t want to do this. Pick someone else.” What is God’s reaction to this request? “So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses” (Exodus 4:14). God will accomplish His will, with our help or without it. When the Jewish race was threatened in the book of Esther, Mordecai told the queen, “For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).
Do we want to make God angry? He has commanded us, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Will we accept Jesus’ command, or will we perish in rebellion? There are people in your life right now who need the blood of Jesus. It is your responsibility to share with them the good news of Christ’s love.
Discussion and Action
1. Which of Moses’ excuses do you believe is most common among members of the Lord’s church and why?
2. Which excuse have you used in the past, and what can you do to overcome it?
3. Recite the six steps of the gospel plan of salvation and where you can find Scriptures for each step.
4. Memorize the text of another verse in the gospel plan of salvation.
5. Review the five names on your index card. Have you used any excuses to avoid talking to them? What opportunities have you taken advantage of this week to share the Scriptures with them? Keep praying, keep shining your light.