To be pleasing to God we must say, "Yes." Indeed, "Yes, yes, yes." There are some people in this world that seem to say, "No" to everything and to everybody. Before a suggestion is made, whether it is good or bad, their mind readies the lips to say, "No." Some such people are mad-at -the world. Others are just habit-bound. At any rate they live in the negative. One time such a man was a member of a church where I preached. He was a good man, and faithful in life, but he opposed everything that was suggested. We were actually glad when he moved away! One who lives in the negative is an obstructionist, even if he doesn't intend to be.
Of course, neither God nor man appreciates a "Yes-man." This is one who never opposes anything. He is like the preacher, who when asked whether he believed the world is round or flat, said that he could preach it either way. One time after a debate, one brother came to me and commended my "stand for the truth." I was encouraged until someone reported hearing him tell a debater on the opposite side the same thing! So, a "yes" in word that lacks sincerity and that does not lead to affirmative action, is worthless and hypocritical.
Say "No," Sometimes
Loud and clear, and with strength we must say "No" to sin, to false doctrine and every false way. Some people can say, "No" in such a way that others can detect a forthcoming "Yes." Casual negatives do not deter high-pressure salesmen, and neither is Satan. Our own heart (and body) are not kept from evil by a compromising denial, or by a half-hearted "No." But our negative word must be prompted by such sincerity, motivated by such determination and followed by such deliberation that our thoughts and deeds reject all corruption of morals and doctrines.
We must not allow majorities, promotions and personalities to prevent us from rejection of every false way in work, worship and life. It is not easy to stand alone in opposition to something, or even to stand with a minority. Moses chose to suffer affliction with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season (Heb. 11: 25). He took his stand with a minority. Elijah stood against the multitude of false prophets, almost alone except for God's help (1 Kings 18). John the immerser yielded not to the high office of the governor, but rebuked sin even in such places (Mt. 14:4).
The courage to say, "No" and the conviction and strength to mean it is a vital, essential quality of anyone who would find favor with God.
But "Yes" Must Predominate
In spite of the necessity to oppose many things and to reject every false way, the one who pleases the Lord must live a positive life. Life must not be negative. Our mind must ever be receptive to truth and righteousness, our lips must always be ready to say, "Yes" and our lives must exemplify the positive. Accomplishments in almost every field depend upon "Yes."
In evangelism we must say, "Yes." So often someone says, "We can't," or "Why," or "How," or "Where" when we should be saying "Yes, here and there and everywhere, now and tomorrow and forever." The church is the pillar and ground of the truth, but because so many of us think too negatively, some times the church seems like a pillow and the truth seems to be grounded! Preachers proclaim, "Go into all the world" but Satan knows that they mean "You go, not me." A plea is made for support of a laborer in the field, and too many times someone says, "No, we can't, we don't have our building paid for yet."
Regarding helpfulness to others we must say, "Yes." Ask someone, "Did you visit the sick?" and he may answer, "No, I sent a card." Ask for help for a destitute man and some will say, "No, let him go to the Welfare Office." Paul said, "Do good to all men" (Gal. 6:10), but some people say, "No, let the government do it." James taught us help the fatherless and the widows but some blame the unfortunate because they are not covered by Social Security. Jesus said, "I was hungry and ye gave me meat." Some body said, "Yes." He said, "I was a stranger and ye took me not in." Somebody said "No" and slammed the door.
Some brethren have become so obsessed with opposing things that almost every answer must be at least partially negative. Ask, "Do you believe in the Holy Spirit?" and some say "No." They really mean they don't believe in miraculous powers today. But why not say "Yes, I am sure the Holy Spirit gave power and inspiration to the apostles." If asked, "Do you believe God heals the sick," some brethren will actually say, "No." But all healing is from God. Why not say, "Yes, God heals through various agencies (some of which may be unknown to man)." Indeed we must help the world to know that our prevailing answer is "Yes" and that we mean it!
Those of us who oppose support of human institutions from the church treasury need to put more and more emphasis upon positive individual responsibility. While we oppose that cooperation that involves the churches in loss of autonomy, let us stoutly encourage cooperation of churches that involves them in concurrent actioneach doing her own work, all working toward the same objectives. Brethren, it is not enough for us to build a negative fence that will keep digression out. We must, with positive forward action, press ourselves, and the churches into the battle for truth and righteousness. We must build up, and not simply tear down. Indeed, we must try to pour out of our lives every sin and evil, and must determine to cast out of the church every false doctrine and corrupt practice, but we must remember that emptiness is usually uselessness. We must be filled with holiness and godliness, and the church must be richly possessed with fruitfulness and faithfulness. And, remember, "No" may empty us of evil, but "Yes" fills us with good.
TRUTH MAGAZINE X: 9, pp. 11-12 June 1966