February 2, 2017
Yesterday’s devotional discussed a common Christian misconception about how we should respond to those who approach us with requests … people with a need or a reasonable opportunity for us to help them. We discussed that the healthy, correct response is actually saying “no” for the right reasons instead of turning the other cheek and blurting out “yes” to avoid a conflict or the uneasiness of their disappointment. One major obstacle we have to saying “no” rests in a major lie embedded in our psyche. Drum roll, please. The lie: saying yes = the loving response, but saying no = the cruel response.
Imagine someone asks for something as they humbly admit your help is needed. Agreeing by saying “yes” … being like-minded, “helping” by doing what is asked, and avoiding conflict … are considered the politically correct or nice responses. Answering in a way that allows the requester to feel “good” is what most would say is a loving response. As a kid, we never picture a loving mom as the one who says “no”. We always picture the loving mom as affirming, nurturing, and positive, providing a shoulder to cry one, reading just one more story … saying “yes” to requests for attention, hugs, kisses, toys, food, activity, crafts, easy-bake oven, and play-doh.
NEWS FLASH: saying “yes” is not always a loving response. What if your 12 year old tries to persuade you he has great driving skills, is responsible, awesome with quads and go-carts, and now wants the keys to the car to go hang out with his friends and grab a pizza. Your loving response, regardless of how hurt, angry, sad, or belittled he feels, needs to be “no.” Same if my 13 year old wants to stay up ‘til midnight on a school night. My incredibly loving response is “no.”
We know kids make dysfunctional, shortsighted, and potentially harmful requests because of limited experience and immaturity blended with their pursuit of immediate gratification. They are unable to foresee long-term consequences, and believe they are invincible to harm. Realizing “no” is the healthiest answer for the child’s well-being is the most loving response. It’s easy for most parents to see, even when kids cry or throw a tantrum. The problem, you see, comes when adults make these requests. We assume adults know what is good for them, have thought it through, and make only healthy, responsible requests. We think saying “no” to a healthy, functional adult’s request would be unloving, or even downright mean.
BIGGER NEWS FLASH: Adults don’t always make functional requests. You must have awareness, discernment, and a view of the bigger picture to know whether theirs is a healthy or dysfunctional request. The cool part … after you put some thought into deciding whether it is a healthy request, saying “no” to adults becomes as easy as saying “no” to the 12 year old requesting car keys.
So today, start developing the discipline of discerning healthy requests from others. Also, practice saying “no” to requests. At least say, “Maybe … let me think about it.” When someone says “no” to you, stop and think whether your request was a healthy one. Don’t assume you are the perfect one who makes only healthy requests all the time. Most importantly, dig and find why you feel pressured to say “yes” or why you are afraid to say “no.” Whether you say a loving “no” or you blurt out an unloving “yes” is your decision, so choose well.
Dear loving God, thank You for being an example to me as You answer “yes” to my requests at the right time and answer “no” to my other requests at the right time. I ask You to continue the work You started … growing in me the mind of Christ, so I can see others’ requests through Your lenses. Give me the courage to say “no” when that is the most loving thing, and not to fear sad or angry responses, tears or tantrums, hurt feelings or negative opinions. I pray in the name of the One who knew exactly when to say no and yes, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children said – AMEN!
And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Colossians 18:18,22,23
The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.'” Luke 4:3,4