How do you handle these situations?
- Your best friend lives from one financial crisis to another. She asks you to loan her some money for groceries “just until payday”.
- Your 18 year old nephew who works sporadically and has never saved a penny begs you to co-sign a loan so he can buy his very first car.
- A relative wants to borrow your car “for a few days” while his is in the shop. This is the third time he has made this request in the past three months.
Are you OK with saying “no” or do you acquiesce with a nagging regret in your gut? Do you wish you could say “no” when you need to?
These five reasons should help:
1. Saying “no” allows the Law of Reaping and Sowing to work.
Galatians 6:7-8 tells us that we will reap what we sow. God has not given us this law to punish us but to teach us. When I overspend and don’t have enough money for food, my hunger is God’s way of teaching me that my financial irresponsibility is not working. But if someone blocks the consequences of my actions (feeds me), that person is not allowing me to reap what I sowed. Your compliance (saying “yes” when you should say “no”) may be in direct conflict with God’s laws. Say “no” and let the other experience those consequences. It is for his best good.
2. Saying “no” will not reinforce negative patterns.
Proverbs 19:19 tells us, “Hot-tempered people must pay the penalty. If you rescue them once, you will have to do it again.” This proverb is not about hot-tempered people; it is about rescuing people who get themselves in a pickle. Doing so communicates the expectation that you will do it again and therefore reinforces a negative pattern of behavior. Have you done that with friends (making a short term loan “just this one time”) or children (making excuses for their behavior to teachers or law enforcement agencies) or co-workers (covering for them when they leave work early)? Every time you enable someone’s irresponsible behavior, you are setting the stage for that behavior to be repeated. Saying “no” may not be easy for you, but it is best for the people you care about.
3. Saying “no” demonstrates respect.
“What?” you say, “Isn’t loaning money to my friend for groceries a form of respect?” Not really. Think with me on this one. The Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12) tells us “Do to others what you would have them do to you.” Now put yourself in the other person’s shoes and ask yourself, “Would I feel respected if my friends always bailed me out of every mess I got myself into?” Probably not. Deep down inside you know that the best ways others could demonstrate respect is to encourage you to bail yourself out. When you say “no” you are actually respecting your friend by demonstrating a belief that she can help herself.
4. Saying “no” is truthful.
When you say “yes” with your words, are you simultaneously saying “no” with your thoughts? If so, you are being dishonest with yourself and your friend. Ephesians 4:25 tells us, “So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.” Being truthful is not always being pleasant, but being untruthful (saying yes when you mean no) is a recipe for hidden anger and bitterness. Honesty is the best policy and your friend, though he might not like it at the time, will nevertheless respect you for it.
5. Saying “no” is a catalyst for positive activity.
God expects us to be active, not passive. Jesus taught his followers to ask, seek and knock (Matthew 7:7-8). He rewarded those who used their talents and punished the one who hid his, referring to him as a “wicked and lazy” servant (Matthew 25:15-30). God has no issue with those who try and fail, but he will clearly rebuke those who fail to try. Trying and failing is a learning process, but failing to try is tantamount to giving up. If your friend lacks initiative, saying “no” may be just what he needs to move from passivity to activity.
We often say “no” because of our own insecurities. We imagine others will reject us or withhold love from us if we fail to cave to their unreasonable expectations. It may be that you need to look in the mirror and ask, “why do I have trouble saying ‘no’”? Whatever reason you discover, I encourage you to give “no” a try. You will be a better person for it and your friends will be challenged to work through the issues that are holding them down.
How about you? Does saying “no” seem mean spirited? How are you at saying “no”? When is the most difficult time for you to say “no”?