by Ken Idleman
I love this Scripture passage in the Pastoral Epistles: Titus 2:11-14. It consists in a short declarative statement followed immediately by one of the longest recorded sentences in the entire New Testament. Ready to focus?
Here we go:
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It 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.
One of the first words we learn to say as toddlers is the word “no.” You and I probably don’t remember saying it during our own childhoods, but those who have reared toddlers know very well that they have it down!
“Time to go to bed.” “No!”
“Brush your teeth.” “No!”
“Eat your carrots.” “No!”
“Clean up your toys.” “No!”
Of course, our job as parents is to teach our children the real meaning of “no” and the appropriate times to say it. It can actually be a good word. “No” can be used in a very positive way if it describes God-honoring boundaries for your life. Learning to say “no” is a capacity that can and should be honed and directed; when it is, it’s a good thing.
To say “no” to some things is actually a virtue. Saying “no” to ungodliness and worldly passions is a prelude to living a self-controlled, upright and godly life. “No” helps to define your values. It shapes your ethical and moral development. It divides good from best. It shapes your future. It ensures your destiny.
We all need more practice at saying “no.”