Yes and No

rsz_yes-no-signsEarly the next morning Jesus went out to an isolated place. The crowds searched everywhere for him, and when they finally found him, they begged him not to leave them. But he replied, “I must preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God in other towns, too, because that is why I was sent.” – Luke 4:42-43

For some Christ-followers the hardest word to utter is “no.” We assume that a Christian must respond with a willing “yes” to every need, every request. After all, Jesus never said “no” to anyone, right? Well, actually, he did. More than once. Here are just a few examples:

When the disciples asked Jesus to send the hungry crowds away to find food Jesus responded, “No, you feed them” (Matthew 14:13ff)

When someone asked Jesus to resolve a family financial dispute Jesus responded, “Nope. Not my job.” (Luke 12:13)

When the crowds wanted Jesus to stay in their town to continue teaching and preaching Jesus responded, “No, there are other places I need to be.” (Luke 4:42-43)

Knowing when to say “yes” and when to say “no” can be challenging. There is sometimes a fine line between wise limits and selfishness. How do we best steward the gifts of our time and energy and at the same time care for the needs of those around us?

Consider saying “yes” when:

  • The request aligns with your gifts and passions
  • The request is something only you can do
  • You feel motivated by a genuine spirit of desire and love, not just obligation

Consider saying “no” when:

  • The thought of saying “yes” exhausts you
  • You’re motivated more by a need to please or not disappoint
  • You’re already overcommitted

Like Jesus, you can faithfully say “no” when you need to, so that you can whole-heartedly say “yes” when the Spirit leads you.

What would you add to the lists above? What’s helped you discern when to say “yes” and when to say “no”?

Want more on this topic? Here’s a post from one of my favorite bloggers.

Jeff Marian is lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN

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