I really don’t want to write this blog post. I pried myself off a very interesting Facebook feed to come stare at a blank page. Is life about what I want? I would like to think that it revolves around what I want to do, how I want to dress, and how I want people to react to me, but my schedule, the dress code at work, and my common sense all say differently.
Are we tyrannized by a focus of fulfilling what we “want” all the time? At the deepest core of my decisions, am I focused on what I want? What is that even based on…how I want people to see me? What I think will gain me more things? It’s like a slavery mindset.
Maybe that is why Paul wrote life-guidelines so often in his books. His letters to the churches have a pattern of a theological part followed by a hands-on part. In Ephesians 5 he wrote,
“7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”
But isn’t that another kind of slavery to be so focused on following God? Yes. If you are a kid in a classroom, you can either listen to all of your peers, or your teacher. And your teacher knows more about math, English, or geography than any of the other kids. So even though you are submitting to listen to the teacher, you are profiting by it.
I often have a little voice in my head whining about my next task, “but I don’t want to go there or do that or finish this.” And it just adds bricks to my feet. “Want” can by a tyrannical dictator of what I do, even when I also know that it is not a good thing, like eating those chips or watching that show. But if I want to, I have to, right? Wrong!
Paul wrote in Romans 6,
“11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.“
No is a powerful word that I need to learn again. Have you seen kids try it out? No. No. Nonononono! And so here I go, trying it out. I might want to stay up later, but NO, it is time for bed. I might want to finish that video, but NO, that would not be the best.
The best way to learn to say “no” is to see what God points out you should say “no” to, and ask Him for help to do it. And He always is happy to say, “Yes!” when we give our attention to Him.
God, thank You for helping me see the tyranny of “wants” in my life, and the power of “no”…but I have a long way to go! Please help me to use my skills, my time, my decision-making-power to serve You and learn from You rather than trying my own way. Thank You for teaching so patiently. To Your glory, Amen.