Why Is It So Hard to Say “No”?

There don’t seem to be enough hours in a day. There simply isn’t time to do all of the things we need to do, ought to do, or want to do. Further, Christians are also called to act in humble service of others in need. Even more, we are to give of ourselves with eager willingness.

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

2 Corinthians 9:7

The demands of life are intense and can lead us to exhaustion. Choices have to be made. As we continue to give of ourselves to our jobs, spouses, children, and activities we can begin to feel empty, like we nothing left to give. All of these things are important in our lives, but time with God is necessary. When we don’t make time out to spend with God, as we pour out our cup we become spiritually dry. Only time with God refreshes and restores our weary souls.

For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.

Isaiah 44:3

Jesus demonstrated this in his own life. Although he spent his days teaching and healing, he always took quiet time alone with God. This time allowed him to seek guidance, align his purpose, and to renew his spirit. This enabled him to give endlessly to others.

After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.

Matthew 14:23

In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.

Mark 1:35

But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.

Luke 5:6

We can become so busy trying to do good that we can neglect our personal relationship with God. This is demonstrated by the story of Mary and Martha. During Jesus’ visit with the disciples Martha was busy trying to make preparations for their meal. As a good hostess, she was eager to serve. She resented her sister Mary, as she sat listening to Jesus instead of helping.

She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:40-42

Serving others is good, but spending time with God is necessary. Like Martha, when we are overloaded with service obligations ot takes away from time that should be spent with God. God supplies opportunities and moves our hearts to fulfill his purpose. But that does not mean always saying “yes” to others. Some needs burden or distract us because the calling meant for someone else. Not only do we become overextended, but we are depriving others from answering a calling meant for them. Through prayer, we can receive God’s wisdom, allowing us to discern which needs he calls us to fullfill.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

James 1:5

When asked to help, serve, donate, or otherwise give of ourselves, our answer should only be given after prayerful consideration. It’s difficult to say “no” to others, and it can fill us with feelings of guilt. But sometimes God is telling us to say “no” to something good so we are able to say “yes” to what is best.

“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

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