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Monday, January 11, 2010

"Let Your Yes Be Yes"

My grandpa passed away a few years ago, but we always laughed about the way he would answer certain questions.  For example, if my mom would ask, "Would you like to come over and eat with us this weekend?"  His reply would always be - not "yes" or "no" - but "I'll play it by ear."  What he meant was that he didn't know if he would, or could, or wanted to commit to doing something so far away.  But, at 80 plus years and a 45 minute drive away, that was understandable.  But, we still enjoyed teasing him about it!

Not getting a "yes" or a "no" from an 80 year old person may be understandable.  Many that age wouldn't feel like they could commit to certain things, due to circumstances in their life.  However, for many or most of the rest of us, we should be able to answer "yes" or "no".

In Matthew 5, we read what is known as "The Sermon on the Mount".  It's Jesus' sermon about many different things.  Beginning in verse 33, Jesus warns the people about swearing oaths.  He encourages them not to do that at all, but to "Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one," Matthew 5:37 says.  James 5:12 repeats this same message, "Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your "Yes" be yes, and your "No," no, or you will be condemned."

Not only do these verses point out that Christians shouldn't swear oaths, but also that we should be truthful.  In most cases we should be able to answer with a "yes" or a "no" on our commitments.  Of course, something unexpected could come up and get in the way of our commitments, but most likely that isn't going to happen too often.

I know these verses have a deeper meaning than what I'm thinking, but because of the volunteer work I do with the 4-H club, PTO club, and even within the church, many times I'm responsible for asking others to help with various projects.  While there are several that when asked will say "yes" and maybe even some that will say "no", those aren't the ones that are the problem.  Not at all.  The one(s) that are the problem are the one(s) that say, "I'll see" or "Maybe".  Now don't get me wrong - I completely understand not being able to help with something (unless it's all of the time).  I understand having to check schedules and make sure there are no conflicts, but what I don't understand is the attitude that seems to say, "I'll help if nothing better comes up that I might want to do".

I'll give an you an example.  Let's say I need six people to make desserts for a fund raiser.  I ask eight people to make desserts.  Five people say "yes".  Two people say "no".  One person says "maybe" or "I'll try".  What should I do?  Count on that one "maybe" or "I'll try"?  Nope!  To me that "maybe" or "I'll try" is a no.  In fact, if I'm one of the five "yes" people who is already making a dessert, I will go ahead and make another dessert for number six, as well.   Why?  Because I've already got three "no" people and my list of volunteers in this small town isn't too big!

Again, please don't misunderstand me.  I understand not being able to say yes to everything.  But, when you do say "yes" - follow through with your commitment and do it!  When you say "no" - say it because you can't do it.  But, don't say "maybe" or "I'll try"!  Of course, it would be fine to say, "I'll let you know in a few days".  But, then again, there's a commitment that you will need to follow through on and let the person know if you can or can't help.  Using my example above, if one of the people who said "yes" is typically someone who doesn't follow through on their commitments, I may even feel like I should make another dessert.  

Commitments to things in our daily lives are important. How we fulfill those commitments show our character and that is the example we are showing others of how we live our lives as a Christian.   As Christians, our character should imitate the life of Jesus.   Our example should imitate the life of Jesus.

"Let your yes be yes and your no be no".  Think about what you're committed to this week.

1 comment:

Wa Wa Waughs said...

I feel that way too, generally. And I carefully consider my commitments nowadays. I learned the hard way in my younger years by saying yes to everything! But one problem I have noticed the last few years is that having teens and committing to attending something and expecting them to attend also is tricky. They are starting to get "their own lives," as it should be, and sometimes have other things to do. So we come back to communication. We don't do it very well, I'm afraid! Sometimes you just have to put your foot down and tell them "you are coming with us," and let some of the little things slide...

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