The Power of a Positive “No”

By Andrew G. Berendt

As you know, there is a nationwide campaign underway, being touted by everyone from the First Lady of the United States, all tire way down to local elementary school teachers. We are reminded by billboards, TV and radio ads, bumper stickers, and badges, to “Just Say ‘No’!” This modern thrust seems to have become rather effective in curbing the tendency to engage in immoral and harmful behaviors, as the high school students polled last year reported a decrease in experimenting with illegal drugs, for the first time since such surveys were conducted.

I heard a prominent denominational preacher, who delivered a very powerful and direct sermon during the late 1950s, in which he illustrated “The Power of a Positive ‘No.'”

I’m happy to report to you that wise king Solomon advised a long while ago, “My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent,” and further, “do not walk in the way with them ” (Prov. 1:7-19). He was encouraging the attitude of heart which comes from a deliberate and predetermined decision to “Just Say NO!” to any and all behavior which would jeopardize his standing with the Almighty. The very best way to prevail in the inevitable temptations which invade our sanctity and seek to estrange us from our Heavenly Father (Isa. 59) is to firmly decide in advance to always do what we know to be right! See also Exodus 23:2 and 1 Corinthians 15:33-34.

As the wise men is directing these proverbs to his young son (Prov. 1:4,8-10,15; 2:1; 3:1, etc.), his intent is to save his son from much of the misery and heartache which comes from these empty pursuits, which promise so much, and are simply incapable of delivering any satisfaction whatsoever. The reason these types of activities leave us feeling empty and guilty is that they are wrong! Solomon is showing us that the trial and error method is not the right approach to experience things that are contrary to God’s will. Faithful preachers have been telling us for years that there is no right way to do a wrong thing, and I might add, that there never comes a right time to do wrong things either!

We must, as parents, and otherwise responsible adults, set loving limits, as well as proper examples to all – especially our young charges. As young people – let’s look up to and carefully heed the wise and proper advice of our experienced elders, parents, preachers, and other teachers. As we read in Proverbs 3:11-18, that the Lord corrects those whom he loves, and that these warnings are for our good, and to keep us from doing dangerous and harmful things, that they aren’t given simply to deny us pleasure. See Ecclesiastes 2:24-26; 3:22; 5:18-20, and see that God wants us to have fun in life, but that we are ultimately responsible to him (Eccl. 11:7-12:1).

A final thought, as I find it helpful to study and compare various reliable translations of God’s word, is a “gem of wisdom” I discovered in Titus 2:11-14, reading from the 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. . .”

Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 23, p. 716
December 3, 1992