Saying No Because You’ve Already Said Yes

I’m tempted to busyness. Or maybe it’s busybodied-ness. Either way, there’s often a temptation for me to say “yes” to every request for help, to every project I see that needs completion.

There are many reasons we’re tempted to be busy. There are many reasons why we struggle to say “no.” Here are two big ones for me:

1. I’m a people-pleaser. I look to others’ opinions and approval for value. Keith preached weeks ago and uttered the phrase, “When you’re a teen you call it peer-pressure, when you’re an adult you call it co-dependency. But God calls it sin.” That’s me. Is that you? I don’t want to disappoint people, I don’t want to say no, for fear of what they’ll think of me.

2. I feel the need to be busy because I need to feel worthwhile and accomplished. I don’t feel valuable unless I’m getting a lot done, and more specifically getting more done than the guy next to me.

I heard a teacher point out several interesting tidbits about Christ’s ministry which has helped me begin to heal the busy-bodied people-pleaser dwelling within me. Maybe it’ll help you.

Jesus said “no.”

In Mark 1 we see that he’s doing miracles amidst many people and the villagers where he is ministering are responding. They’re bringing people to hear him speak and to be healed. But in verse 35 we see him sneak away before dawn. The people awake and look for Jesus, they want to know where he is, but not even his disciples know where he is. So they search for him. They eventually find him isolated out in the countryside and remind him that the people in the village are looking for him. They want to be healed and to hear his authoritative preaching.

But Jesus doesn’t rush back to the village. In fact, why was he out here alone to begin with? Jesus could say “no” because he had already said “yes.”

Jesus could say “no” to the miracles and the teaching that morning, because he had previously said “yes” to spend time with his Heavenly Father in prayer and meditation. He had said “yes” to times of silence and isolation for the sake of his soul.

And then he says “no” to returning to the village because he’s already said “yes” to his Father’s bigger plan and purpose. Others need to hear his message, others need to be touched by him. So in verse 38 he says this: “Let us go somewhere else – to the nearby villages – so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.

Jesus would not let the wishes of the people around him direct his paths and his purpose. He was under no illusion why he was here. God had a purpose that he must pursue diligently.

Later we get a glimpse of that ultimate purpose: he is to be killed in Jerusalem, and in three days rise again. The repetition in the book of Luke communicates that Jesus is resolute to not be distracted.

9:51 – “He set his face to go to Jerusalem.”
9:53 – “Because his face was set toward Jerusalem.”
13:22 – “He went on his way…teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem.”
17:11 – “
On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along…”
18:31 – “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything…will be accomplished.”
19:28 – “He went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.”

Jesus could say “no” to people along the way, because he had said “yes” to his Father.

How about you? Do you have a hard time saying “no” because you haven’t actually said “yes” yet? Have you said “yes” to spending time with God daily so that you get to say “no” to that thirty extra minutes of sleep? Have you said “yes” to spending time with your family so that you get to say “no” to the neighbor that needs help building a fence? Have you narrowed down your priorities, deciding that your God and your family come first?

If you would your “yes” list would shrink. Your “no” list would grow. And you’d leave a bigger stamp on this earth than if you had continued in your busy-bodied ways.

Let us learn to say no because we’ve already said yes.

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