Not Just No, but the Yes as Well as the No.

We Christians love to tell people “No.” Whether it’s sex, body piercings, Harry Potter books, or the occasional, appropriate Family Guy reference.

See what I did there?
[image source: Google]
And let’s be honest. Saying “No,” feels good! It makes you feel in charge. I mean look at the Genie in Aladdin. First thing he did when he as free? Looked Aladdin in the eye and said, “NO!” Why? Because he could!

Better yet, saying “No” makes you feel better than the person you are no-ing. After all, you already know it’s a no-no, and you in your enlightened state get to let them know it’s a no-no, too, not only so they won’t do the no-no, but so they can know that you know what a no-no it is by how you’re not doing it.

What?

Christians seem to say “no,” more than anybody else on the planet. It’s one of the many reasons the world hates us. We have a reputation for saying “no” to anything that can be deemed even remotely pleasurable.

But what about when it’s legitimate? What about when a man wants to leave his wife and the Bible says it’s wrong? What about discipline? What about correction? We can’t allow people do do whatever they want, right?

Yes, but when we only tell people “No,” we’re neglecting half of the truth.

Jesus said in John 10:10, “I have come to give life, and life more abundant.” Not “life more restrictive.” Jesus didn’t come to give us more nos. He came to give us a big, fat “Yes.”

That’s really the difference between religion and Christianity. Religion says “no, because you’re a bad person.” Christianity says, “Yes, because Jesus is great.”

Giving people a list of “nos” doesn’t work. It’s nothing but restriction on top of restriction that makes people want to lash out and sin all the things. It’s like telling someone to stop eating junk food. What are they supposed to eat instead? Every “no” you ever use needs to have some kind of “yes” right after it. You need a “Do” for every “Don’t.”

Fortunately, the Bible is full of Yesses. Unfortunately, Christians can’t seem to remember them! I mean heck, look at the Ten Commandments! 80% of them start with “Thou shalt not…” That’s a lot of “nos.” However, there’s always an alternative that is either explicit or implied. Look how Jesus re-worded the Ten Commandments in Matthew 22:37-40:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength[and] Love your neighbor as yourself. All of the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Did you get that last part? EVERYTHING the Bible EVER said can be summed up in those four verses. And there wasn’t a single “no,” “don’t,” or “stop” in it.

Pretty much every time Jesus said, “Don’t do this,” he added a “Do this instead.” Matthew 5 and 6 have some excellent examples:

  • DON’T pray all haughty and loudly like a hypocrite who only wants to be heard. INSTEAD pray quietly and alone to prove it’s about God and not about looking good.
  • DON’T focus on worldly treasure. INSTEAD, focus on heavenly treasure.
  • DON’T seek revenge. INSTEAD, seek love.

It’s common sense that every time something is forbidden, you need an alternative. The Bible isn’t a 1,000+-page manual on what not to do. It all boils down to one simple statement: “The world says to do this, but I have something better for you. Follow me and I’ll show you exactly what I mean.”

What “nos” in your life could use a little “yes”?

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68 thoughts on “Not Just No, but the Yes as Well as the No.

  1. Wow. This is good. And what’s more, it’s so true…it’s so easy as a Christian to simply say, “No. I don’t do that.” Which begs the question, “Why not?” “Because I love Christ, He loves me, and He says there is a better, less hurtful, way.” Thanks – needed that reminder today! 🙂

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    1. I’m glad I could help. In the next two weeks, I’m going to be doing a couple posts about Christians really asking why they say no to certain things, like Halloween, or more importantly, challenging questions. Stay tuned! 😀

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    2. it is NOT a measure of “no’s” or “yes'” … or balancing them. its about juggling the equal & opposite in EVERYTHING that requires answering. with inner peace…. comes magic. comes electricity… comes an inner purpose that allows you to instinctually already KNOWno or CENTSsense danger… YET either way! EQUAL & OpPoSiTe = finding your purpose. stop trying so hard. it is right in front of you. with love & light may you emerge from your own cave/caGe/hyberNATION and continue to guide souls to safety.

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  2. I really like this. I think a lot of people have become consumed by the ‘no’ because it’s convenient for them to use on other people. You’re right, it can feel good to tell other people no. But then you miss out on all the opportunities to try to say something more positive or helpful. You start sounding like a rule book rather than a guide. In the end, people will do what they want anyway, but I think there would be far better reception to faith if people said, ‘You CAN do this’ instead of ‘You CAN’T do all this.’

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  3. Surely not all Christians say no all the time? Surely Christians don’t have a monjopoly on negativity.
    Having said that I agree with you that it’s better to be positive about something than negative. I heartily agree with and appreciate your positives.

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    1. Obviously we don’t all say no all the time, but it seems to be a general theme both to non-Christians and Christians alike. We’re famous for saying it, more known for what we’re against than what we support. It’s a sad truth and I felt like commenting on it, and I thank you for your comment, too!

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  4. Great post! It is quite easy to be caught up with the rules of Christianity also, that it becomes a no religion! Jesus did away with the rules. You are so right, no one wants to join a group for its ‘no’ potential.

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  5. I’m guilty of only hearing the no’s. Its not just those saying no, but those who only hear the negative, & the restrictions. I need to remember the positives and the freedoms that you’ve pointed out. Thank you for reminding me.

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  6. Except Jesus didn’t write/say that–he’s quoting from the v’ahavta, part of the Shema, the central prayer in–wait for it–Judaism.

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  7. Nicely and humorously stated! I love living life on positives rather than the negation of pleasure, as you stated. Living a life saying yes also doesn’t have to be complete mayhem–“I will be patient with my kids” is more powerful than “I will not yell at my kids.” It’s all about perspective! Thanks for the reminder!

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  8. While people from certain eastern cultures and religious backgrounds have a difficult time saying “No” all this while, as docility and humility can sometimes unhealthily be encouraged into their nature and nurture. The world is weird! Thanks for a Great Article

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  9. I once read that by the age of 5 we heard the word “no” 40,000 times and the word “yes” only 5,000 times. 8 times as many no’s as yes’s! No wonder there’s so much negativity.

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  10. This is so true. especially the part “religion is not Chrisianity”. The same problem exists with any religion taken to the extreme. When at its extreme, it’s a way of control (as I see it). It would have been better were we all minding our own business instead of thinking who’s a bad Chrisitan/Jew/Muslim etc.

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  11. Re. praying quietly:

    I believe that a true prayer has no rules or restrictions, no Do’s and Don’ts, so no template or format. What it does have is intensity, which has its root deep in our hearts. When this root is watered with strength and love, the intensity grows and touches the Superconscious where the divine lives. But all this happens in a moment; in a blink. I realize that igniting intensity is not a subject to be taught or learned; it’s a koan without an answer.

    Re. heaven vs. worldly pleasures

    Neither worldly treasures, nor heavenly pleasures last. So both lead to misery in a way. There is a realm beyond heaven too…that’s where I would like to live. 🙂

    Revenge is the rawest emotions we have. To go beyond revenge and become the vessel of love, we must experience revenge and the misery it causes… suppressing our desires of revenge will make us hypocritical and more dangerous than we already are as humans.

    All I can say about Christianity is instead of worshipping or following Christ as a divine and unconditional lover and healer, we have been focusing on the act of crucifixion. Why have we been giving so much energy to that inhuman act instead of following His thoughts and actions?

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    1. We focus on it because it was, indeed, an inhuman act. No mortal man would have gone through that, but he, as human and God, did. And I think we focus on the crucifixion because it is the pivotal hinge of our faith. Without that one event, we have no religion, no faith, and no hope. As for the realm beyond heaven, what did you mean?

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      1. Sanatana Dharma’s scriptures don’t regard heaven as the ultimate destination. Even in the Bhahavad Gita, Lord Krishna says that there are existences beyond heaven and He considers them better than heaven because beings fall/descend to earth from heaven when they exhausted their good karmas. But the rare ones who reach the Existence beyond Brahmaloka are freed from the cycle of rebirth. I am not the authority to provide details, but I think they refer to Golokadham.

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      2. Ah, I see. I’m afraid I’m unfamiliar with the teachings of Krishna. The religious posts I make are based on Christianity and the Bible, which say that Heaven is the final destination, a sinless realm we’ve not yet known but will if we willingly accept Christ.

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      3. Sanatana Dharma has many scriptures… I began my journey with the Gita.
        I have been trying to internalize the Bhagavad Gita … It’s an occupation of many life times. All great beings teach love and surrender, it is us who misunderstand them in so many creative ways.

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  12. This is so timely. My boyfriend and I have been fighting for days because of this very reason. That I keep saying “No” and “Don’t”, his point being I have given him restriction without making him clearly understand the reason behind each negation. Our fight has caused so much heart ache for us both. And this article has opened my mind to something better.

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  13. Love me. Love others. If I had to sum up the Gospel, that’s what it would be. We live in a world where it is so easy to say no and don’t. Thanks for the reminder, that instead of no, we can look to the yes in the alternative! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

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  14. “No don’t hop up and down off your chair child, yes, keep your beautiful God-given behind still and eat some of the abundance of food we’ve been blessed with.”

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  15. I like this – you should emphasize that Jesus gave us the freedom and ability to say yes to Him! We say no to the world and sin, sure, but we also need to actively say yes to Christ every day.

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  16. Gosh I love seeing Christian posts being Freshly Pressed, congrats!! This really was a great post, and I think we don’t talk about that enough. We’ve lost our focus and this broken world around us needs to be pointed to the Saviour. So instead of being so quick to say no, we need to be like Christ and do what He has called us to!

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  17. Nice post. I think one of the areas in which Christians have gone wrong is that we’ve become so obsessed with what we’re against, no-one really knows what we’re *for*. Too often our ‘yeses’ look like the fifties in a black and white movie but the love and grace of Jesus is far more technicolour than that…

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  18. love this! I’ve just started reading ‘Desire’ by John Eldredge which talks about this. He quotes Dallas Willard:

    ‘Thus Willard describes the Gospels we have today as “gospels of sin management.” Sin is the bottom line, and we have the cure…

    ‘Jesus is quite clear that when he speaks of eternal life, what he means is life that is absolutely wonderful and can never be diminished or stolen from you. He says “I have come that they may have life, and have it tot he full” (John 10:10 NIV). Not, “I have come to threaten you into line, or “I have come to exhaust you with a long list of demands.” Not even “I have come primarily to forgive you.” But simply, “My purpose is to bring you life in all its fullness.”

    great post, thanks!

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  19. Great post. The teachings of Christ are a gateway to greater freedom. For example, if you lie once, it takes a myriad of other lies to cover the one lie. if you speak the truth, then you are free to move on. If you stay out of debt, you are free from bill collectors and have more options.

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  20. Lovely. I’ve been thinking about some of this stuff lately, as I grew up in a conservative evangelical household. It seems to me that Christianity became skewed the minute Jesus left the scene. Paul really messed it up, IMO.

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      1. He made up all the “rules” of Christianity (the organized religion) in his letters to the churches–or at least outlined the beginning of organization; whereas Jesus simply gave teachings on how to live. At least, that’s how I’ve come to see it. If we all followed Jesus’ teachings and forgot about Paul;s rules (who really just appropriated the fledgling Christianity) we would be alot more tolerant, loving, giving rather than judgmental, self-righteous…and political. IMO, of course.

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      2. When I read through Paul’s works and compare them to the rest of the Bible (OT, gospels, whatevs), I find that they actually line up rather well. Paul’s teaching was just for instruction on how to live, clarification and organization for a scattered people. Jesus didn’t get into the nitty-gritty because that wasn’t his mission. It was Paul’s, and I believe he was inspired in what he did. But I do believe that organized religion did skew and warp what Paul (and the rest of the Bible) say, making absolutes where there are none, etc.

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      3. I guess in order to be a “Christian” one has to accept that Paul was inspired…however anyone can try to live according to Jesus’ teachings and be better for it either as a Christian or not. Anyhoo, good luck with your blog and your writing. It’s been nice talking with you.

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  21. Well written! Many people probably do not look at the freedom of following Jesus, because they get bogged down in the supposed restrictions. Having a reason for a “no” is a common request made of me as a parent to a 7- and 3-year old. When I am tempted in life, there is more strength and success in fleeing that temptation when I think of Jesus’ love for me, rather than an image of Jesus saying “no” to me. He died a terrible, horrible, painful death…humbled himself on earth…took on my punishment and everyone’s…once those facts break the heart, we are able to see the reasons behind every “no”. Failing to understand just what Jesus did for each of us, on both a personal and a universal level, keeps many stuck hearing only the “no’s”. Keep writing!

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