The Positive “No”
As we commit to living purposefully, we discover an appreciation for the proper uses of “yes” and “no.” Simple as these words may seem, both carry a lot of weight; it helps to learn the practice of the positive “no.”
Often we perceive the word “no” to bear a negative connotation, and understandably so. After all, the word “no” is defined as a negative or an opposite. That being said, we need to look not at the word but at the context in which the word is used. In doing so we can determine if “no” is used positively or negatively.
Many of us, including myself, can struggle with saying “no” – especially to others. The word, however, can be used in a positive manner if aligned with our goals and purposes – if, of course, our goals and purposes are aligned to God’s will. When we want to say “no” but instead say “yes,” we disobey God’s Word. Jesus commanded: “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37) Although Jesus was speaking in reference to taking oaths, His words apply also to misaligned thought, word and action. If we say “yes” when we want to say “no,” our words are no longer aligned with our thoughts. This misalignment causes disharmony, and disharmony is not from God.
We know that saying “no” to sin is saying “yes” to truth and to freedom in Christ. It is clear that saying “no” to sin is positive. But what about saying “no” to things that are not sinful? What about saying “no” to a social event invitation, for example? Is it selfish or insensitive to say “no” to an invitation? Prayer, reading God’s Word and careful consideration of our purposes will direct us in such a circumstance. If you know that God is calling you to do something other than attend this social event, trust Him and follow Him. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” (Psalm 32:8)
Most of us have experienced the overwhelm that comes with being over-committed. There are twenty-four hours in a day, as God ordained, and we must use them wisely. “Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow.” (Psalm 144:4) There are many noble activities to which one can commit, but our time on earth is limited; one simply cannot commit to all. If certain activities draw us away from priorities and hinder the momentum of doing God’s work, it is beneficial to step away from such activities – as good as they may be – and step forward instead on our purposeful pathways. Our focus then is not on that to which we say “no” but rather on that to which we say “yes.”
This principle takes practice; but the more we master the art of saying “no” purposefully, the more we say “yes” to moving forward, “yes” to focus, “yes” to momentum, “yes” to harmony and “yes” to serving God.
Today, as you walk upon your purposeful pathway, take notice of when you say “yes” and when you say “no.” Carefully note your motivations for saying both. Are your mind, body, spirit – thought, word, action – aligned when you say either word? What is your motivation for saying “yes” and for saying “no” in each situation? You will likely discover that sometimes your reasons for saying “yes” are not necessarily rooted in the dedication to your purpose and to God’s work. Through prayer and meditation upon God’s Word, we can determine the proper balance and allotment of daily activities. If you deem in the Spirit that your time would be better spent in one activity rather than another, follow the Spirit – and say “no” in order to say “yes.”
I encourage you to gratefully embrace this ability to choose, this ability to say “yes” and “no.” And I encourage you to master the art of saying “no” purposefully in order to make your “yes” more powerful.
© COPYRIGHT 2011 Caroline Gavin
How will you use the Positive “No” today?