“No” is seldom heard from most women. Raised to believe that saying “yes” to every request, big or small, deems us kind and compassionate while saying “no” screams selfishness we exhaust ourselves remembering the adage “it is better to give than to receive.”
Saying “yes” is admirable and honorable . . . until it isn’t.
Matthew 25 tells the familiar parable of the ten virgins – five wise women gathered with five foolish women dressed in their finest apparel with lamps in hand waiting patiently for the bridegroom to arrive and begin a highly anticipated celebration.
What distinquishes these women is preparation should the bridegroom be late arriving. The five wise women bring extra oil. The five foolish women do not.
At midnight a cry penetrating the darkness announces the bridegroom’s arrival. It is here we learn that preparation and priority separate the wise from the foolish.
Because the five foolish women failed to bring additional oil their lamps began to dim. Panicked and fearful they asked the five wise women to share their oil.
“No” they replied, “there may not be enough for both of us” and kindly suggested they go buy more oil and return.
Reading this recently the word “no” stood out. They said “no.”
Scripture encourages us to share and rightly so. However, here we see when sharing can be costly and saying “no” is not only allowed but required.
Had they said “yes” they too could have missed out on the moment they had anticipated and prepared for. “Yes” could have cost them their goal of lifetime fellowship with the bridegroom.
Their “no” was not a reflection of selfishness but instead it was a form of of self preservation.
By refusing to say “no” when necessary we are exhausted, overwhelmed and overworked as well as consumed with guilt, resentment, self condemnation and frustration.
Inside we are screaming “no” yet with every request no matter how costly to our well-being we smile politely and say “yes.”
When saying “yes” cost us our goals and dreams because we lack the energy to pursue them, rob us of time with Christ our bridegroom, keep us from enjoying life because we are resentful, steal all the joy of giving and leave us unprepared for our future it is time to add “no” back into our vocabulary.
Five wise women in Matthew would affirm that saying “no” changed their lives forever. Had they said “yes” out of guilt, obligation or duty, all their hopes and preparation would have ended in that moment.
I encourage you today to give yourself permission to say “no” when necessary without guilt or condemnation.
Because “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the sun” (Ecc 3:1) there is a time to say yes and a time to say no.
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