“No” is such a simple word. So simple, in fact, that it often becomes one of a child’s firsts words. I speak from experience when I say that most toddlers love saying the word… almost as much as they hate hearing it! But all joking aside, the power of no is something we learn at a very young age. And while the concept is simple as a child, “no” has a way of becoming a complicated word as we mature into adults. But what would happen if we chose to embrace the power of no as adults the same way we did as a child?
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“But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.” – Matthew 5:37
As a child, the word “no” is easy to say. My young daughters have no trouble expressing their desire NOT to do something. Now, it’s true that there are some scenarios where saying no isn’t an option… like cleaning their rooms, for example. But there are other times when I want to teach my girls to say no… like when it comes to safety or godly living.
The keys to harnessing the power of no are to know how and when to use the word effectively and then to stand firm in your decision.
- Allow the Holy Spirit to guide your decision making.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this step. Left on our own, we are usually not the best at making decisions. Sure, we may think we are doing the right thing. But we have a tendency to second-guess ourselves and regret many of our decisions after the fact.
And what about decisions that aren’t black and white? The choices that affect our future? Only the Holy Spirit has the knowledge to lead us in the right direction. He knows what the future holds and what the repercussions will be of every choice we make. And since God’s wisdom doesn’t always align with man’s, basing our decision-making on His wisdom and not our own is the only choice that makes sense.
When the Holy Spirit is leading us… we can stand firm in our decision even when the world doesn’t agree with our choice because He knows better than we ever could.
- Understand who or what you’re saying no to.
This step is also essential. Who you are saying no to matters. For example, my children are not allowed to say no to me as their mom. Why? Because I have authority. When I tell them to finish their dinner or to pick up their toys, they need to obey. Authority is the key word here.
You have authority in many situations. Use it! You have authority to say no to the enemy’s lies. You have authority to say no to someone asking you to do something contrary to what the Holy Spirit has called you to do. And you have authority over your own personal schedule.
I included this last one because I think as Christians we struggle in this area. There is a fine line between wanting to serve others and putting ourselves in a situation where we are spread too thin. God never meant for us to be all work and no rest. This is clear even at Creation when He ordained six days of work and one day of rest. We can’t be effective for God when we are a ball of stress!
- Stand firm and let your no be no.
When my daughters ask for a sugary snack, what happens if I say no and then go back on my decision a few minutes later after they’ve pleaded with me? I have just taught them that my no doesn’t actually mean no. All they have to do is beg a little and I will give in to their demands.
So let me ask you a question… What happens when we say no to the enemy and then give in after he continues to persuade us? Essentially, two things happen. 1) He learns that all it takes is a little extra persuading. 2) I develop a habit of giving in even though I’ve already said no to him.
So stand firm in your decisions. Be a person that means what you say and embrace the power of no in your life.
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. – Titus 2:11-12 (NIV)
Learning to embrace the power of no in your life requires you to lean on the Holy Spirit for wisdom in all things.
*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.