Do you struggle to say “No”?
In Luke 12:13-14, as Jesus was in the middle of teaching his disciples, a man called out from the crowd, seeking Jesus’ intervention in a family matter. Apparently, the man’s father had died and his brother was now refusing to share the inheritance with him. Jesus responds to his request with the cryptic words, “Man, who made me judge and arbitrator over you?”
This is the Lord of the universe speaking – the Creator of all things, the Judge of all things, the Beginning and End of all things. Who better than him to be judge and arbitrator over any and everyone. Yet with his answer he appears to brush off the man’s plea.
So why would Jesus say these words?
While on earth, Jesus had a very specific call and purpose: to announce the nearness of the kingdom of heaven and the good news that it entailed, and to reveal the heart of God toward his broken, hurting world (Luke 4:16-21). Whether the man’s request came from good or greed (likely greed, as Jesus’ subsequent answer suggests), he was asking Jesus to get involved in matters that did not directly concern his earthly ministry.
In other words, Jesus knew his calling and stayed true to it. Again and again, Jesus would not allow the wishes of others to pull him in a different direction, even when the wishes were well-intentioned (such as Peter’s ill-timed and ignorant rebuke of Jesus in Matthew 16:21-23). Further, he never did for someone what they were able to do for themselves, such as working out the man’s problem for him (a very good philosophy for those who get peppered by frequent requests for help).
There was a burning “Yes” inside Jesus – the knowledge of and passion for a calling and a purpose in life and ministry. This burning “Yes” made it possible, even easy, to say “No” to lesser requests – not less important to the person, but a lesser way to live out his call.
So what about us? Are we saying “Yes” to things that are in actuality a lesser way to live out our call? Those of us called to be mothers and fathers, do we keep saying yes to things that in fact pull us away from our family? Those of us called to be church leaders (who often get asked to intervene in family, relational, and spiritual problems), are we saying yes to things that keep us away from equipping the church (the actual call of pastors, according to Ephesians 4:11-12)?
It’s not that we should be heartless, nor that we should say “No” to every request, but we should be able to say “No” when it when it opposes the “Yes” within us. The easiest way to say “No” is to have a bigger “Yes!” burning inside.
Do you struggle to say, “No”?
My first question would be, “Have you found your Yes?”