The Power of “No”
This Sunday, I was talking to someone, and compared myself to Ado Annie from the musical Oklahoma! In that I just “cain’t say no, and I’m in a turrible fix.” (Admit it, my misspelling, if you’ve seen the play/movie, made you read it in her voice). Loved ones, I say this because Jesus, when He told us to be a slave of all, didn’t mean to do so in a way that compromises us in ungodly ways. There were times Jesus said “no.” When his ministry was growing, and everyone was looking for Him, they wanted His help, they wanted to hear Him (at least according to His disciples), he went away to a different town (Mark 1:37-35). He said “no” to His mother and brothers, understanding their intentions (Luke 8:19-21). Jesus refused to let the people make Him King, and instead drove many out of his ministry with difficult teaching (John 6:22-71). He refused to answer the Pharisees questions about him (Luke 20:1-8). When I consider just these three examples, I am the least bit Christ-like in my use of the word “no.”
No is a powerful word, and just as with yes, should be used understanding the weight of its use. God tells us “no” in terms of sin, as He knows the consequences of sin, on ourselves and the world and people around us. In the same way, we need to know when to say “no,” and not just to sin, but to things that are good, but not for the best. For example, as a preacher, there are some who expect me to be everywhere, being all things to all people all the time. If I didn’t say “no” every once in a while, I would completely neglect my first and most important ministry, which is to my family. Considering, also, how Jesus would go, often, to a solitary place, away from the crowds, and even His own disciples, I who preach Jesus should make this a habit myself.
Loved ones, it is Biblical to say “no.” It is Biblical to take time to be alone with the Father. It is Biblical to take time to focus on discipleship and leading in your family. It is Biblical to rest. It is Biblical to do all of these things, and so we must, by the light of Scripture, do them! And saying No has power. Saying “not right now” shows strength. And you can do so in a way that uplifts and points toward Christ.
“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.