One day a pastor decided to visit a delinquent member that had not been attending church. As the pastor entered the member’s home he sat down and began a friendly dialogue but eventually got down to the reason for his visit. The pastor said, “Don, I’ve noticed that we have not been seeing you at church lately. I was just wondering why that might be.” Don looked and the pastor and in response said, “Pastor, I have milk in the refrigerator.” The pastor was a bit taken back and said, “You probably did not understand my question, Don. It’s just that you have not been out to church in some time and I was asking if there is anything hindering you from coming.” Once again, Don replied, “Pastor, I have milk in the refrigerator.” The pastor responded and said, “Don, I’ve asked you twice why you have not been out to church and both times you’ve said, ‘I have milk in the refrigerator’…why do you keep saying that?.” Don replied, “Pastor, when it comes to not going to church one excuse is as good as another.” In other words, Don knew that any excuse he gave would make as much sense as “I’ve got milk in the refrigerator” and that is my “excuse” for not coming to church.
Such moments of transparency and honesty are rare. Usually Christians come up with all kinds of reasons (i.e. excuses) why they can’t serve the Lord to any great extent. Almost always they are just “milk in the refrigerator”. As God’s people we have few legitimate reasons why we can’t attend worship, work in the church, or serve in any number of capacities. Instead of making excuse why we “can’t” we should be listing the reasons we “can” and “should” be serving the Lord and his people in and through the local church.
I’m thankful for everyone who has made a genuine profession of faith in Jesus Christ and attends church regularly. However, until all are baptized and participating servants of their local church, the cause for joyful thanks is muted. You know what happens if milk stays too long in the fridge don’t you; it spoils and is no longer useful. Our excuses for not obediently serving the Lord will serve to cause us to spoil as well. In the words of the Greek in Romans 6:2 “me ginita” which can be translated, “God forbid” or “may it never be”.
All of us need to stop making up reasons (excuses) for why we cannot serve the Lord, give more, and live more victoriously and sacrificially. I always know when my wife does not like an idea I have or a proposal I am making. If something does not hit her right or it is something she would rather not do, the first thing she does is to immediately suggest hindrances to the fulfillment of the suggestion. For instance, if I suggest getting away for a few days and her first remarks are, “What would we do with the dog?”, “Wouldn’t that be expensive”, or “I’d have to miss ladies’ bible study”, I’m pretty certain it is not an idea that has struck her fancy. What she is doing at that point is to think of reasons we “can’t” or shouldn’t get away at this time.
This is what we often do with serving God. We begin to give all the reasons why we just simply could not teach that children’s Sunday school class, work in the nursery, give sacrificially, etc. We don’t have the time. We don’t have our own children in the nursery so I don’t have the responsibility any more. We do not have the income right now to be able to give.
What we should do instead is to think of all the reason we can do something. Our default position should not be “why we can’t”, it should be “why we can and should”. I think it would make a world of difference in how we see our part in the work of God.
So, while we all probably have milk in our refrigerators, that is not a reason for failing to serve God faithfully in the local church. No “excuse” is!