Having recently had to deal with a person who always has an excuse for not doing something she had an obligation to do, this little story really hit home. I have just about stopped asking or suggesting anything of this person now. It's obvious she is having soup for supper, or perhaps needs a shave. Why should I allow myself to become frustrated over someone who just doesn't care?
Jesus made the same point with his parable about the great feast (Luke 14:15-24), and in a similar parable about the wedding feast (Matt 22:1-10). All those he had invited had an excuse, and all about as silly as needing an axe to eat soup with. So the host took back his invitation and offered it to those who would take him up on it, those who obviously felt it was worth the trouble and disruption of their evening schedule. They would certainly receive far more in return.
We usually apply this to the salvation Jesus is offering, which is a valid and perhaps even primary application. But let me offer you a few more.
Has anyone ever asked you to go visiting with them? Maybe the person is new to the congregation, maybe he is simply new to recognizing his obligations as a brother in the Lord. Having you along would help with his nervousness, aid him in keeping a conversation going, and it would also create a new bond between you. Did you manage to find an excuse not to go?
Has anyone ever offered to study with you, perhaps an older brother well-versed in the Scripture who is anxious now to pass on what he has learned in all his hard work through the years, especially the process of learning on one's own? How many excuses did you come up with before he gave up on you?
Has a sister invited you to the Ladies' Bible Class, assuring you it is a learning opportunity, not a gabfest? How many things did you find that absolutely had to be done during that one hour of the week rather than any other?
Has your family been invited into the home of another, not only as simple hospitality, but also as a way to develop a closer relationship? Did your always busy schedule make it impossible to "pencil them in?"
See what I mean? We are oh so good with the excuses. And let me tell you, the more of them you make, the more obvious it is why you are making them. If for some reason you simply cannot do something, just say so. If you just don't want to, say so. Are you worried about hurting feelings? Trust me, people are not as naïve as you seem to believe. They know what's going on. I have far more respect for honesty than excuse after excuse after excuse.
If I can see through them, so can God. It isn't even a super-power, people. And just like I have given up on that one I have had to listen to, God will give up on excuse-makers too. Just what do we think that parable was all about anyway?
Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ (Matt 22:8-9)