As a Christian, I’ve often struggled to say “no”, when asked to do something, especially when it’s been about doing good things to serve the Lord. I’ve realised that there have been different reasons for my struggle. Sometimes I’ve wrongly thought that, if there’s a need, I must be available to meet that need. But, if we look at the ministry of Jesus, we see that He didn't live by that rule. There were times when He walked away from places, even though there were crowds of people still looking for Him.
When He healed the paralysed man at the Pool of Bethesda, He didn’t heal the others who were lying there, waiting for the waters to be stirred. When He heard that His friend Lazarus was seriously ill, He didn’t respond to Martha and Mary’s plea for Him to come. Instead, He actually waited until Lazarus had died before going to raise him from the dead. The rule that governed Jesus every moment was simply to do what He saw His Father doing. It has often been said that ‘the need is not the call’. Jesus modelled that perfectly for us.
Another reason that I can struggle to say no to a request can be because of fear of what the person asking me will think of me. I have to ask myself, whose opinion of me matters most – God’s or people’s? I know that, as well, I’ve sometimes feared that, saying no to something I really love to do, might mean I won’t be asked again. I need to remind myself that God has prepared good works for me to walk in, and saying no to something that He doesn’t want me to do will actually free me to say yes to those things that are His will for me.
I think I’m finally learning that I can say “no”, without feeling guilty. I felt that the Lord spoke to me recently. He said that, if I offer myself sacrificially to tasks that He’s not calling me to, I’m likely to end up exhausted and worn out - a burnt offering. But when I say yes to what He’s really calling me to, I experience His enabling and anointing as a living sacrifice. Romans 12:1-2 gives us a key to knowing the Lord's will in our everyday lives:
‘I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect’ (RSV).
Prayer: Father, I want to become more and more like Jesus and only do what’s pleasing to You. Thank You that, as I say “yes” to Your will, Your blessing flows into my life, and then out to others. Amen.
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