When my first son was small, I remember wanting to avoid having a child who yelled ‘no’ all the time, so I tried to avoid saying ‘no’ to him if I could. Eventually, I did end up having to say ‘no’ much more than I wanted. It was such a convenient way to help him understand what was allowable and what was not.
There were so many ways to tell him what he could do because so many things were permissible. Yes, he could walk on the sidewalk, or on the rocks, or in the grass or on the bricks, or holding my hand or with granddaddy, but ‘no’ was the quickest, easiest way to make the point that he could not walk in the street. And it wasn’t long before he learned ‘no’ and with it came the desire to rebel against it.
How similar is my life of freedom in Christ. There are so many things that are good to choose from, it would take a lifetime to list them all. For instance, I can be told to speak to people in love, in truth, instructing, encouraging, in kindness, with joy, with laughter, personally, with others, in groups, tell jokes, share stories…the list could go on extensively. But it is simpler to give someone a standard of communicating by saying ‘don’t lie’.
And yet, this creates a list of ‘no’ that I find myself focusing on, filling my thoughts with the negative. When I focus on the ‘no’ more than all the things that are ‘yes’, it gives me a sense that godly living is restrictive. And the desires that have ‘no’ in front of them are the things I spend more time thinking about so I can try and avoid them.
So when I hear “walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh”, it is immediately freeing! It changes my focus onto all the freedoms that the Spirit gives me! When I am so focused on all the great things the Spirit shows me I can do, I will be so busy doing those things, that I will not have time think of the desires of the flesh. And by doing the ‘yes’ things the Spirit invites me to, I will automatically be avoiding the ‘no’ things, without even thinking about them!
Father, let me see past the ‘no’ statements to the freedom in the ‘yeses’! Help me reframe my thinking by looking to all the things the Spirit leads me to. Let me bless others with all the yesses. Let me live in the blessing of Your ‘yes’. Amen