What is so difficult about saying “yes” or “no”?
We go through our days making constant decisions, even if we are not aware of it. One of the most striking things about the decision is that we don’t realize by saying “yes” to something, we are saying “no” to something else. Now, that seems pretty trivial when it comes to deciding to have a salad for lunch instead of a sandwich, or to take the toll road instead of the free highways. But what about decisions that impact our soul? Our spiritual side?
Read: 2 Corinthians 1:17-22: Was I fickle when I intended to do this? Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner so that in the same breath I say both “Yes, yes” and “No, no”? But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us – by me and Silas and Timothy – was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Matthew 5:33-37: Again, you have heard that is was said to the people long ago, ’Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply “Yes” or “No”; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
It’s a big challenge for all of us who volunteer, who want to do God’s work in the world. We try to say “Yes” all of the time and then are overwhelmed. Or we try to say “No” once in a while and feel guilty about letting others down.
Question: What does it feel like when you say “Yes” to something significant. What did you in turn say “No” to? How often do you say “Yes” out of a sense of obligation rather than a realization that you are being asked to do work for God’s kingdom? What is the risk when you said “Yes” and who was impacted by the “No”? How does it feel when you say “No”? Do you feel guilty? Disappointed? Secretly glad that you dodged something? Do you think you can’t fit one more thing in your schedule? How do you choose when to say “No”? During the Lenten season, many of us choose to give up something for Lent. What have you put in its place?
Exercise: Pay attention this week to the decisions that you make. hink about something you may have been saying “No” to and making excuses why you haven’t done it. It could be spiritual (starting a scheduled prayer time) or physical (taking a mid day walk) or mental (doing the daily crossword puzzle.) Or perhaps it’s a new task at work or at church that you have said “No” to in the past. Take some time to figure out why, and whether by saying “no” you are turning away an opportunity to serve God and your community. Extra credit: Trying saying “no” to something this week without any additional explanation. How does that feel? Can you do it?
Prayer: Lord, you know we lead such busy lives, having to say “Yes” and “No” to more things than we can count. Help us to understand that when we say “Yes” to you, our lives become fuller, and help us to have the strength to say “No” to the things that take us away from your Word. Amen.