Because I Don’t Want To
And I said, “Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you.” Acts 22:19
Whenever I’ve got a chore that I don’t want to do, I put it off, making excuses as to why I shouldn’t do it yet. If I’ve got some free time on a Saturday afternoon, my wife may gently encourage me to get it done. I’ll explain though, how I just don’t have enough time, or the weather isn’t right. The truth is, I’m simply lazy and just don’t want to do it. I don’t say that though. I’d never admit that I’m dragging my feet just because I’d prefer not to do the thing. I’m not that honest. So, instead, I make up logical arguments, explaining why I just can’t possibly do it today. I pretend my argument is all about reason, but it’s not. It’s all about preference.
Maybe I’m making an unfair assumption, but I think this is what Paul attempted to do to God in today’s passage. In the story, Paul, who had persecuted the church, met Christ and repented of his old ways. God promptly commanded him to begin spreading the gospel. Paul however, knew he’d now be hated by both Christians and non-Christians. He simply didn’t want this mission at first, but he didn’t tell God that. Instead, he made a reasonable argument. No one will ever accept me God. I’ve persecuted Christians. You need someone else for this job. Paul’s argument wasn’t wrong, but his real motivation was preference, not logic.
We often do this. When we know what we’re supposed to do but simply don’t want to do it, we find or manufacture reasonable arguments supporting our case. Usually, we’re not simply honest enough to say, I just don’t want to do that. The truth is, when we really want something, even if we know it’s wrong, we’ll overcome any obstacle to do it. Those of us who’ve been addicted know how far we’ll go to get what we want – even when it’s completely unreasonable to do so.
Why do we manufacture arguments? Because it assuages our conscience more than simply saying, I don’t want to do the right thing. In lying to ourselves, we make it easier to embrace evil. When we learn to be truly honest about our motives, we’ll stop making excuses for our disobedience, which, in the end, will cause us a lot less misery and frustration.