As I sit here typing I am enjoying the sounds of my neighbor’s roof being ripped apart by workers. Yes, enjoying. You see my new neighbors moved in about two months ago. And then they moved out. I haven’t seen them much over the two months because they had their flooring all re-done. And then re-done. The person they originally hired to install their beautiful reclaimed wood floors did a horrible job – when he showed up. So, they had to fire him and hire a new installer. And now the roof. They’ve been told for weeks the new roof would be installed any day. Last week they were told it would be on Thursday. Then Friday. Then Monday. So today the roofers finally arrived. I like my new neighbors and I know how frustrating this has been for them. So yes, I’m enjoying the noise knowing the work has finally started. It seems that there are so few people and companies we can actually rely on today who make their “yes” mean “yes.” It may sound harsh, but when we don’t make our “yes” mean “yes” and our “no” mean “no” that’s called lying.
I watched an interesting video interaction once where a pastor went up to people and asked if they sinned and had broken the 10 commandments. They all said, “no.” Then he started asking them questions. “Have you ever taken a pen from your work?” That’s stealing. “Have you ever ‘swore to God’ you would do something for someone and you didn’t?” That’s taking God’s name in vain. And on and on. It was fascinating to watch the faces of the people change. They looked humbled.
The Bible is big on trustworthiness. God’s covenant with us is His way of setting this concept in the forefront. He is trustworthy. He is the God of yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is the Rock we can trust will be with us in times of trouble. And He asks us to work on being trustworthy with our promises. When we are asked by a friend not to reveal something told in confidence, we aren’t to go into that decision lightly. With God’s wisdom by our side we give our “yes” or our “no.” And we stick by it. We don’t need to swear it. We just need to mean it.
I was a PTA president at my daughters’ elementary school for two years. I frequently asked people to help on projects or events. I appreciated those who would say “no” and not be squirmy about it. I, of course, really appreciated the people who gave me an eager “yes” and meant it. The people I had the most issue with were those that said “yes” and then wouldn’t show up, wouldn’t do the work, or gave a half-hearted effort. They would swear they wanted to help. It’s those people that I felt had they said no, I would’ve been better off.
If he is a true man and has plainly said, “I will,” you have him in your hand. He was free before giving it but not free after.Charles Spurgeon
What if we all thought that way when we gave our decisions? Before we answer, we are fully free to pick whichever we wish. But once we say “I will” we are fully committed. Yes, circumstances arise that may be difficult to follow through – a late order from another company, the weather, an illness, something breaks down – but knowing we have made that commitment we will move heaven and earth to fulfill that obligation. We all have experienced situations where a person or company fails in their obligation. It is their reaction to that failure that we most respond to. Are they willing to make up for the failure? Are they contrite? Or do you get a “whatever” response? We will determine then if they are trustworthy or not.
When we enter into that covenant with another person by giving our “yes” we need to be sure we aren’t impetuous. Are we making that decision to impress others or even to impress God? I was involved with a woman through Girl Scouts and PTA for many years who volunteered for everything. People on the outside thought she was amazing! Her name was on all the volunteer lists. The only problem was she never actually followed through and completed the tasks.
That’s Jesus talking. And he’s not just talking about following through with commitments we make and being honest. He’s also talking about saying “no” to things we need to say “no” to. When we are tempted to do wrong, we need to just say a firm “no.” When we are asked to take on a task and have prayed about it and God tells us “no,” we need to say the same to the asker. Not “maybe.” Not, “possibly.” Not, “I’ll see.” We don’t need some long explanation. With His wisdom tucked firmly in our back pocket to be used at a moment’s notice, we can be firm on our “no.” Sometimes it’s difficult to decide which way to turn. If only we had the breastplate described in Exodus 28:15
Included on the tunic was a pocket with a black and a white stone. When a big decision needed to be made, the faith leader would reach in and pull out the stone. Black for no and white for yes. It reminds me of those Magic 8 Balls. Although those always seemed stuck on “Maybe.”
In my post on patience I listed the reasons you should have patience. One of those was for better decision-making. When we aren’t emotional and stressed, we can think through a decision much clearer. As a Christian we have the power of prayer. We have the Word of God. How many of us, when faced with a big decision turn to both of these? And wait for an answer? I used to volunteer for anything thrown my way. Part of it was out of pride – thinking how great it was to be asked. Another part was needing to always be “doing something.” After I volunteered THEN I would ask God to work it out. Yes, a bit backwards.
I learned a long time ago at my first professional, career job that, when making especially difficult or controversial decisions, I wanted to align those decisions with my boss. That way I knew if issues came up, I was supported. That thinking has served me well throughout my working career. And when I finally applied that same concept to the rest of my life it made giving my “yes” and my “no” much easier. God is my boss. When I align my decisions with His Word, I am strengthened by the promises He has made. I know He is working all things for my good.