The Magic Word

If you read this letter beginning to end, the contents found here, will change your life.  I know you may be skeptical, but trust me, life changing stuff is found here.  This amazing biblical principal can be boiled down to a single key word that illustrates this entire principle – NO.

How many of the struggles and issues that we deal with each day could look different if tapped the power of no?  Many families are struggling financially right now with crippling credit card debt and underwater mortgages.  How did we get to this point?  We refused to say no.  We didn’t say no to spending beyond our means, no to buying a home that was a little ambitious based on our incomes and budgets.  We see more and more people reporting stress related disorders; we are burned out and stretched thin, too busy and there is just not enough time for what really matters.  Often because we didn’t say no when the school asked for volunteers to help with the play, no when we were asked to lead a third ministry, no to a healthy balance between work and our personal lives.

Grab a Bible and open it to Acts 16.  Paul is off on his missionary journeys to preach the Good News all over the world.  In verses 6-8 we learn a bit about their itinerary for the trip, “And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.” (Acts 16:6-8, ESV)  Paul sets off to do God’s work, to share the Good News, and God says, “No.”  Twice in this short passage God told them no to the mission they felt called to be on.  Is anyone else shocked by this?  Wait a second God, they are doing good Christian work and you tell them no, what’s up with that?  We are reminded here that just because there are many good ministries and opportunities, it does not mean that we should always say yes to them.

Kids are really important to our church.  Should we spend every dollar we have on it; stripping all other ministries from their funding?  Not so much.  What about missions, that is such important work; should we focus 99% of our money to that ministry, to the point it cripples our entire ministry?  No again.  You get the call.  A women’s group is without a leader and unless you lead, the group will have to disband.  You don’t have the skills or the passion to lead the group, and you don’t want that on your conscience.  The appropriate answer is NO, thanks for thinking of me, but NO.

As I said earlier, life changing stuff.  God sets a precedent for us in scripture to say no, even if what is before us is a godly ministry, a good cause or a great need.  As humans we are finite, we have limitations, time constraints and budgets, all of which God gave us as a humble reminder that we are not God.  So maybe next time you will think of responding no, a little differently.  Perhaps next time you will remember that no is less about hurting someone’s feelings and more about following God, not trying to be God in every area of our lives and churches.

Discussion Questions

  1. What is most important in your life, faith, church?  Does your time and financial management reflect that?
  2. What is one area of life that you are stretched too thin (time, money, family, work)?
  3. What is one place that you need to say no?
  4. What challenges do you have to saying no?