Simple actions 3: learning to say no.

First published May 13, 2009 as part of a Mother’s Day sermon.

“Every day, asking God for guidance, say no to something.”

There is a place for saying no. There are things that are good but not best. There are things that are not good at all. Learning to follow Jesus means learning to say no to both kinds of things.

It is hard to say no. And we make it harder by picking what we think that God wants us to say no too, and then making a big deal of telling other people what those things are. “We” have generated long – and different – ists of what people who follow Jesus shouldn’t do. It gets confusing.

In Titus 2:11-14, Paul helps with that discernment a bit. He says that the grace of God that brings salvation teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions. There is a process of learning as we go. There is an image of being instructed by God about what is “not God.”

“When you do that, it’s not what I would do. When you demean other people, when you demean yourself, remember that I gave myself up for you. When you want take the glory for yourself rather than pointing to me, remember that you didn’t rescue you, I did. When you are ready to give up on someone ever understanding, remember that I don’t give up, not even on you. When you want to indulge yourself, let me show you how to not do that.”

There is an image in this passage of schooling, of teaching, of guiding, of relationship. We do have to say no. There are boundaries to acceptable behavior. But we learn in relationship, not in requirements.

So starting in the relationship, which we’ve described here and here, say no today.

“Every day, asking God for guidance, say no to something.”

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About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of 300wordsaday.com. I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.