Every single day we face some form of testing. Every day we are beset with a trial of some kind. Every day God is watching to see what we will do with the time we are given.
A couple days ago, I listened to a successful woman talk about how she built her business out of the trunk of her car while she was homeless. Today, she earns six to seven figures every year. While I didn’t agree with everything she said, there was one thing that was spot on—stop making excuses! People have been making excuses or blame-shifting since the beginning of time.
Here are a few examples of excuse-makers from the Bible:
Adam and Eve.
“The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”
“The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3.12-13)
“They will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.”
“Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” (Exodus 4.1-17)
Hang on! Jesus didn’t make excuses!
Even though He had plenty of times when He could have chosen to disobey or do something different, He did what He was supposed to do and never had to make excuses.
When Jesus faced Satan in the wilderness in Matthew 4, he was hungry. He’d fasted for 40 days in the middle of the desert. There was no Starbucks nearby, no McDonalds, and no market. When Satan tempts Jesus, He doesn’t start with the “worship Satan” bit; Satan strikes at Jesus’ immediate physical need. He attacks Him where He thinks He’ll be most vulnerable: “Command these stones to be turned into bread.”
After 40 days without a morsel of food, heaven-made bread sounds mighty tempting. Could Jesus have done it? Yes! Would this have please God? No! Did he have a good excuse to turn stones into bread? Well, surely if he was hungry… at least, that’s what we would think.
Jesus refused to make excuses. He obeyed God without wavering. 3 times Satan tempted Him and He didn’t budge. He wasn’t going to slip and then make some lame excuse to His Father.
How did Jesus resist temptation? You might say, “Well, He was the son of God, wasn’t He? He couldn’t be tempted at all.” He was the Son of God, but He was also in bodily form. He still hungered. He still thirsted. He was still subject to the same emotional and physical discomforts and yes, temptations. In spite of all these things, He resisted temptation with three words.
Are you ready to learn the 3 words that need to fill your mind, heart, soul and lips?
When you face trouble of any kind, say these three words in your mind:
IT IS WRITTEN
If you are tempted, say to yourself, “It is written” and then recall to your mind what God has said on the subject.
If you are tempted to stare overlong at that attractive-looking woman, the first three words to pop in your head should be: “It is written,” If you start looking at your friends and all their neat-o stuff and start wanting it for yourself, the first three words to pop into your head should be: “It is written.” If you find yourself burning with anger against a friend who has wronged you, don’t justify or excuse your feelings, say aloud or in your mind, “It is written.”
“Hang on, Elihu—you didn’t fill in the rest! I can’t walk around saying, ‘It is written’ because I don’t know what to fill in the blank!”
That sounds an awful lot like an excuse to me.
Why don’t you know what to fill in the blank? Because those 3 words aren’t driving you! You cannot bring every thought into captivity, you cannot fight temptation and you will not stand in time of testing if those 3 words don’t motivate you.
In Hosea 4, God says this through the prophet:
Hear the word of the Lord, O children of Israel,
for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land.
There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land;
There is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery;
They break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
Therefore the land mourns, and all who dwell in it languish…
Yet let no one contend,and let none accuse, for with you is my contention, O priest…
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me.
And since you have forgotten the law of your God,I also will forget your children.
Hosea 4.1-6, ESV (click the link for the full context)
We, like the Israelites will be undone if we do not commit God’s Word to our heart every single day for the rest of our lives. We always think we have more time than we really do. I hear about people dying every day. Pixels and ink bring us the last vestiges of people who died in sudden crashes, earthquakes, cancer, heart attacks—all of whom thought they had more time.
We only have today. What are you going to do with your time?
It is written:
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Ephesians 5.15-17, ESV
Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You.
Psalm 119.11, NASB
When you hear yourself make excuses about not having time to read, stop yourself mid-sentence, grab your Bible or your iPad or your iPhone and start reading. You don’t even need an app, just go to BibleGateway.com. It is urgent! The time to commit the Word to your heart is today, before the next temptation comes your way! Yes, we are covered by grace! Yes, things happen! But those should not be excuses for neglecting the most powerful tool in our arsenal against Satan.
Would you go to battle with no weapon?
What would Jesus do if He was living in your life, walking in your shoes? He’d make knowing God and meditating on His Word priority one. He’d meet temptation with the Word, ready to say, “I won’t do that because it is Written…” Jesus would pray for wisdom. He’d prepare to wage war against the devils schemes.
Today, as you prepare to face whatever challenges lay before you, repeat these three words, “It is written.” Take time on your drive to work or while you’re eating breakfast with your children to start putting the words of God into your mind so you will be ready when the time of testing begins.