When is the last time you were able to say “no” with a clear conscience? If you’re like me, my question strikes you as ridiculous: Who can possibly say “no” and feel no guilt? Surely it is only natural that doubts about ourselves and our decision will always go along with declining a request or choosing to not serve the community in some way. Saying “no” has an almost insurmountable stigma to it. We don’t say it unless we absolutely have to and then, only with a properly-prepared excuse we hope will soften the blow.
Some of us, who feel we have to say “no” often, become very good at making comforting, acceptable excuses. We never let the people to whom we must deliver the dreaded word think we do not utter it without palpable pain and utter recourse. We believe it is an honor to never let anyone down. What we don’t realize is that we make people our god when we do this. We let them indirectly determine the type of lives we live. We are at the mercy of whatever need or event which should come up for all our days.
As difficult as it is, I have been learning to say “no.” But not just “no” when it’s squeezed out of me by circumstances I can’t control. I’m going so far as to choose “no” as my answer when I deem responsibly handling the matter before me to warrant such action. I still struggle with the idea of what people will think of me–how they might even doubt my godliness if I am too forward in how I stewardship the life God’s given me–but I am disposed to move forward anyway. I have been caged by the fear of others for far too long. It may take me a long time to win a complete victory over these false concerns of my heart, but God is calling me to obedience in this area and is giving me the grace to give it to Him.
If you can identify with my confession and the calling I feel to no longer let fear of men undermine my fear of God, let me encourage you to take a moment right now to celebrate. Neither one of us would choose this transformation for ourselves. If God did not intervene, questioning so kindly the way we live our lives, we would not change. But He has chosen liberty on our behalf; He has offered to be our burden-bearer and the One to teach us how to cast our every burden onto Him. He’s got this whole process in His hands. We just get to submit and watch Him work. What a joy! Because of His grace, we will learn to say “no” as liberally as necessary so that we can say “Yes!” most wholeheartedly to the things He has specifically called us to invest our lives in.