Sometimes we struggle with telling people, “No.” We don’t want to seem selfish or ungodly. We don’t want to disappoint or upset people. Being a people pleaser can seem like a good thing, but it it actually very toxic. Saying, “No,” is a critical life-skill we all need.
The goal is, we should be able to say, “Yes,” when it is appropriate and good for us to do so, and we should be able to say, “No,” when it is appropriate and good for us to do so.
If we always say, “Yes,” that is a problem. If we always say, “No,” that is also a problem. There should be balance so that we have godly discernment and can wisely determine when to say yes and when to say no.
Ultimately, let’s always say yes to God and no to anything that is not of Him!
This always requires the wisdom, discernment, and leading of the Holy Spirit. There is no substitute for seeking Him in prayer and seeking His will in each situation.
- If you are not hearing His voice clearly, please check out this post.
Some times when “No” is appropriate:
- Someone is asking you to clearly sin or go against God’s Word, even if that person is in a position of authority in your life.
- When anything sinful is a temptation or anything that is clearly the invitation of the enemy.
- When someone is clearly sinning against you – there are certainly times you may need to lovingly, humbly, respectfully confront them.
- When something would violate your conscience may be a time to say no – after praying carefully about it and studying God’s Word (Rom. 14).
- When you are not actually able to do what the person has asked – either because of time restrictions, physical limitations, financial limitations, or other reasons.
- When someone is asking you to do something you really don’t want to do and your motives are pure. There are times when it is wise to thank them for the offer but to kindly refuse.
- When saying, “Yes,” to this person would require you to say, “No,” to something more important.
- If you are going to resent the person if you say, “Yes,” there can be times it is better to decline.
- When saying, “Yes,” would end up filling up your schedule so much that you don’t have time for God. If you are empty spiritually, you will have nothing to give to bless others.
- When something would cause you to be a poor steward of your time, abilities, your health, your body, your walk with Christ, your soul, your finances, or God’s calling on your life.
- God calls us to die to self.
- Someone is trying to hurt you or commit a crime against you. This can require a very firm, “No,” and you may need to contact the police or other appropriate authorities.
- When you have prayed about something and you know that this thing is not of God and is not God’s will in your life.
- If your husband is not on board with something, that is often a sign that God has closed that door.
- When something is a good thing, but is going to take too much time and isn’t in line with God’s assignment for you in that season. Just because someone asks you to do something doesn’t mean you have to automatically say, “Yes.” Pray about it. Do what God calls you to do.
Some times when “Yes” is appropriate:
- When you are saying, “Yes,” to God and to anything He has for you even if it is scary – whether His Spirit is prompting you or His Word is directing you.
- When you know that God has a particular ministry or task for you to do – even if you don’t feel like doing it.
- When someone in a position of authority in your life asks you to do something that is not sinful – even if you don’t feel like doing it – honor God’s order in every arena of life out of reverence for Christ. (The exception is if the leader asks you to sin, go against God or His Word, do something illegal, or the leader tries to abuse his/her authority.)
- If a police officer pulls you over – cooperate with him/her. Be respectful. Honor and obey what the officer asks you to do.
- Honor the laws of the land.
- Honor government officials out of reverence for Christ and so that you do not bring judgment on yourself (Rom. 13:1-3)
- If your boss asks you to do something that is not against God’s Word, honor your boss’s leadership.
- Cooperate with your husband’s God-given leadership position appropriately.
- Use your influential authority wisely and…
- Of course, if you have concerns, you may respectfully share them in appropriate ways.
- When something would help you be a better steward of your life, your health, your body, your time, your finances, your soul, and God’s calling on your life.
- When this particular activity is clearly in line with God’s will and His priorities for your life.
- When you believe God desires you to do something in order to pour His love and blessing into the lives of others and you have right motives.
Let’s be honest about our yes and no.
- Let’s mean yes when we say yes.
- Let’s mean no when we say no.
It is not a good thing to say yes and resent other people because we feel like they should know we really didn’t want to do something. Let’s not expect others to read our minds – but answer in simple, straightforward, and vulnerable ways.
- I like that.
- I don’t want to do that.
- I would prefer to do this, instead.
- No, please stop!
- Yes, I would love to do that.
We can say, “No,” respectfully and clearly (and without a lot of explanation – which tends to just get us in more trouble – in my experience, at least):
- No, thank you.
- I’m sorry, I can’t.
- That is not going to work for me.
- That would go against God’s Word, so I am not able to participate.
No is a gift just as much as yes. When God says, “No,” to us – it is because He loves us and wants something better for us. When we say, “No,” to something that is not best for us or for others, our decision is a gift, as well, for the other person, as well as for ourselves.
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. t teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. Titus 2:11-14
Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. Matt. 5:37
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Cor. 10:13
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7