by Pastor Tim Burt
I think many of us have seen the old War on Drugs commercial. It had a slogan; “Just say No!” The word no is a critical word in life. There’s way too much in life that we get to say yes to. There’s critical things we should say no to. And if you didn’t catch the implication of the last statement, to say yes or to say no is a choice. It is the exercise of free will. You get to make the choice of what you say yes or no to in life. God made us uniquely different from every creature in this world in a number of ways—one of those being, we are given free will to make our own choices. We all know that making choices can backfire. We know that because we’ve all felt the pain of making some bad choices.
Most people don’t understand God or His Word well enough to understand that choices—specifically bad choices, are what have messed up the world we live in—not God’s mismanagement of this world! To even suggest that is worst-case ignorance! God has given us free will to make our lives and this world a better place. When we see the mess that we’ve created, then hopefully we’ll understand our need for God and for walking in His ways! That is what makes the world more civil, filled with His love, and leads to blessing instead of destruction!
People wonder frequently, Why does God tolerate the evil that is in this world? The truth is, it isn’t about God tolerating evil. God’s very nature is love and the nature of love is that it gives freedom—the right to choose. The evil and pain that is in this world is because of people making a never-ending stream of bad choices. Bad choices lead to hurt and pain that reaches far further than just the individual who is making them. This is why God exhorts us saying, “With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused.” Ephesians 4:17 (NLT) The Lord is telling us that we have the right and authority to make right choices, but we need to learn to say no to choices that hurt ourself or that can ultimately hurt others. When the Lord is referring to Gentiles, He is referring to non-believers who don’t know God’s ways! He said they will be hopelessly confused.
As Christians, we are not supposed to be ignorant of His ways. We’re to learn what is good and what is evil and learn to say No to making bad choices. Saying No, is good. Saying No to the piece of dessert when you are overweight and trying to lose weight is good. Saying No to the temptation to flirt with someone that is not your spouse is good. Saying No to the child that is acting unruly is good. Saying No to the temptation to view pornography is good. Saying No to the partying that leads to drugs and drunkenness is good! Saying No to the temptation to an emotional outburst when you are upset that will only make a problem worse, is good.
Strength comes from resistance. When you lift weights or exercise, you are creating resistance to strengthen your muscles. The blessing is this: muscle strength is created through resistance and your ability to resist grows stronger. Learning to say No to things you should say no to, accomplishes the same thing. You grow stronger at it.
It seems like some Pastors are afraid to talk about the no’s that God instructs us in through His Word. Many are afraid someone will get the impression that the Bible, Jesus, and the church are just about do’s and don’ts. I guess that could happen if God’s motives weren’t explained and if people weren’t taught that every no carries a message and motive of love. God instructs us to say Yes to things He desires us to do because He knows it will lead to blessing and joy. Like a loving parent, God instructs us to say No to things that He knows will hurt us and others. His yes’s and no’s are both motivated by His desire to love, bless, and protect us.
I surrendered my life to the Lord at the age of 24. I’ve been practicing living in the yes’s and the no’s of God since. And they have nothing to do with going to Heaven. Heaven is a gift of God’s grace through Jesus Christ alone. Yes’s and no’s are about the quality of life we create for ourself and the world around us. And as I said, they are both motivated by God’s heart of love.There is much that God encourages me to say Yes to that brings great blessing into my life. I’ve also been living in the no’s because they bombard me every day—spiritually, mentally, and physically. Spiritually, God tells me that I get to yes—draw near to Him and fellowship with Him. But my busy days try to push back and shout, No, there isn’t enough time—you’ve got too much to do and you need more sleep. To the Lord I say yes and to the temptations I say no.
This world is filled with pain because of people that haven’t said no to being mean, rude, selfish, lustful, greedy, and evil. God did not cause this world of pain. People cause this world of pain. This is why God wants you to build up the muscle that comes from saying No to the things you know in your heart are inappropriate. There is a God-given supernatural inward strength He promises to those that have faith in this promise and lean upon it. Philippians 4:13 (NKJV) says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” That means that the Lord will help you say Yes and No at the appropriate times.
To God I say, Yes, and thank you Lord for your help and grace to do what is right. To the temptations that I know violate God’s heart and ways, I say No. To things deep down I know God would rather not have me do that aren’t sin, I say No! Oh how I love the Lord’s inward strength helping me. Oh how I love building my spiritual strength to say Yes to God’s instruction and to say No to the devil’s temptations! It’s a part of the God-life!
Proverbs 3:1-2 (NIV) “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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