Friday, November 04, 2011

Learning to say “No”

In terms of putting my own needs first, looking out for my business first, I am a terrible businessman. To be successful in business, the model is that one counts the needs of his business as most important and people are secondary.

Yesterday, instead of going to do the job that I had planned to do, I responded to a former neighbor. He came and knocked on the door, as he is accustomed to doing, and told me his latest situation. He works as a janitor at the local university, working from 3pm to 11pm. He is hurting financially. His previous vehicle quit running and was repossessed, and after many months, he was able to purchase another used vehicle.

That vehicle served well until he came out to drive home and turning the ignition produced absolutely no results. Just a soft click. He tried calling his children and used up all of his minutes of air time leaving voice messages. Then he sat all night in the parking lot. In the morning he walked about seven and a half miles to my door and asked me to tow him home. I invested most of the day trying to help him.

The smart thing would be simply to say, “No, I can’t help you.”

But how can I say that. It would not be true. I actually carry a tow strap so that I can help people. How can I then say that I cannot help? I could say, “I don’t have the time.” But God gives me 24 hours in each day to utilize. I could say that my neighbor, or even former neighbor, is not my responsibility. I could say that people like this are just using me. But of course they are, that is the very meaning of asking for help.

Honestly, I do not want to learn to say “No” to those who are hurting and in need. That would be to deny the person God has regenerated me to be.

Yet a person does need to be respectful of his limitations. Moreover, one needs to be aware of financial limits. Yet, how can one who trusts in the Lord forget the record of what transpired in the wilderness?

And Moses said, The people, among whom I am, are six hundred thousand footmen; and thou hast said, I will give them flesh, that they may eat a whole month. Shall the flocks and the herds be slain for them, to suffice them? or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to suffice them? And the Lord said unto Moses, Is the Lord's hand waxed short? thou shalt see now whether my word shall come to pass unto thee or not. (Numbers 11:21-23)

When one in whom the fear of the Lord has been regenerated so that the person trusts the Lord and walks in His ways doing as the Spirit of God moves him, is it possible that the Lord will forget to provide the means to do as He has led the person to do? The God who brought all things into existence through the Logos, merely calling the universe into existence by His own Word and Will, can He not also provide the daily bread that we need?

No, I believe that I will continue to seek God’s merciful help in saying “No” to my own doubts and fears and selfishness and lack of compassion. Even better, I will continue to look to Jesus Christ in whom all of God’s promises are Yes and Amen.

But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea. For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. (2 Corinthians 1:18-22)

Surely I have limitations. But God does not and His mercy and goodness have no limitations either. Can one who believes this then turn away from a neighbor without showing the mercy and goodness that he himself has received of the Lord?

To this I very willingly say, “No.” Such is not possible. God’s mercy and love and goodness are greater than this.

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As a clarification, indeed there are times for saying "No" to the expectations, requests, or demands of others. But when the Lord moves one in one's heart to feel and show compassion, when a person responds to what appears to be a genuine need of another, this is right and good.

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