We live in a world that teaches us the importance of accumulation and accomplishment. While there is nothing wrong with having nice things or working hard to achieve, we can forget that there are great spiritual lessons learned by forgoing opportunities to get ahead or buying the newest gadget. It takes faith to say no to selfishness, worldly desires, and envy.
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.
Hebrews 11:24-27 (NIV)
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 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 glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Titus 2:10-12 (NIV)
See Beyond the Moment
Faith allows us to see beyond the moment. Moses looked beyond the moment while in Egypt to something better down the road. He made the decision to put off “the pleasures of sin for a short time” because of his faith in God’s plan for his life. Moses must have struggled to give up the easy, privileged life for the challenges of leading the stubborn, ungrateful Israelites. Very few people would give up so much visible wealth and power for someone and something invisible. Yet he was convinced that there was great value in saying no to worldly treasures so that he could fulfill God’s purpose and receive a spiritual reward.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
Matthew 13:44-46 (NIV)
The faith to say “no” to self at the present moment is our greatest tool for saying “yes” to God’s blessings in the future.
- We say “No” to fear, in order to say ‘Yes’ to love.
- We say ‘No’ to unfaithfulness, to say “Yes” to intimacy in our marriage.
- We say ‘No’ to letting our career consume us, so we can say ‘yes’ to family.
- We say ‘No’ to impurity to say ‘Yes’ to purity of heart.
- We say ‘No’ to deceit to say ‘Yes’ to the freedom that comes from truth.
- We say ‘No’ to that extra purchase to say yes to debt-free living.
- We say ‘No’ to laziness to say ‘Yes’ to strong character.
- We say ‘No’ to sin so we can say ‘Yes’ to spiritual rewards.
Willing to Wait
Can you say ‘Yes’ to tomorrow and ‘No’ to today?
Easier said than done! If you are a parent, you can appreciate how very difficult it is to teach children to wait. Small children don’t understand the concept of time, and tomorrow can feel like an eternity. Often times we want our kids to be willing to wait, but they don’t see us practicing what we preach. They are looking to us to learn that waiting is a spiritual lesson too.
It’s not just the character issue of ‘denying self’. It’s about whether your heart can see beyond the immediate gratifications of self in order to grasp the long-term benefits of God’s grace. When it comes to taking a stand against the captivating sins in our lives, many of us fall continually because we refuse to say ‘Yes’ to God’s grace. God’s grace becomes our great instructor in denial of self, if we are willing to be trained by it. Saying ‘Yes’ to God’s grace means we are willing to wait for an eternal glory that far outweighs ‘the pleasures of sin for a short time’.
It is difficult to wait for:
- A dating relationship that will help you grow spiritually
- The right job that will pay well but won’t take over your life
- The home purchase that won’t overextend you financially
- God to answer prayers of healing
- When you wait and wait but don’t have faith, you can grow bitter and disheartened, forgetting that the wait is just as important as the answered prayer. God’s timing is always perfect and he knows what is best for you spiritually.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
Psalm 37:7-9 (NIV)
Lord, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God.
Psalm 38:15 (NIV)
- What has the Holy Spirit prompted you to say no to? Have you listened? If not, why?
- What things do you want but don’t need, and should say no to?
- Look at the ‘No’/’Yes’ list above and identify any that you are having difficulties saying ‘No’ to.
- As a family or household, identify personal dreams or desires that you want to pray for God to make clear if that is his path for you.
- Make a list of prayers that you are waiting on God to answer and encourage others as you see him answer your prayers.
- Psalm 130
- Matthew 6:19-24
- 1 Timothy 6:17-19