One of the first words a growing baby learns to say is, “No!” This is because ‘no’ is a word they hear a lot from caregivers. If you are a parent, like me, you know I speak with authority on this subject.
However, I like to think we are instead telling our dear ones, “Know!” We are, after all, aiming to teach them how to live. We are trying to convey danger, or the secrets of playing well with others, and especially the meaning of being nice to ourselves.
…’Love your neighbor the same as you love yourself.’
Mark 12:31 ERV
I know from my own experience as a child and a parent, that this instruction is one we are not always fully qualified to give. We misunderstand the “as you love yourself” part. We aim but miss the mark. Our sin is the result of not knowing the true meaning of ‘no’.
I declare we can “know now no”.
One of the biggest revelations in growing up is the beneficial intent of “no”. The ‘hot stove’ is perhaps the best-known example of physical benefit. When we yell, “No!” at the toddler, we are, in short, exclaiming “Know that you will be burned by the flame!” “Don’t touch!” quickly becomes obvious to us. It takes only one painful burn.
But mental, emotional, and spiritual “no’s” are much harder to absorb. I dare say that some of us never figure them out, as we keep making the same mistakes. In fact, it is our difficulty in accepting these “no’s” that leads us into trouble in all areas of life, because to ‘love ourselves’ is understanding that we need to stay far away from what is harmful to us. I know that some things are good. But too much of a good thing is bad.
… So we, too, should run the race that is before us and never quit. We should remove from our lives (say ‘no’ to) anything (everything) that would slow us down and (especially say ‘never’ to) the sin that so often (so easily) makes us fall.
Hebrews 12:1 ERV
Here’s my version of this verse:
Know now no.
‘Know’ that less is ‘now’ and leads to ‘no’.
‘Know’ that (one letter) less is ‘now’ and leads to (one less letter,) ‘no’.
Now I know what ‘no’ means.
What we hear is “you can’t have such and such a thing. You’re not allowed to have it.” We infer that someone else is permitted, or that we are being denied out of spite. But that is the lie. What we are really being told is, “that thing (or too much of it) is not good for you; you don’t need that, so don’t even ever want it; besides there is something else that is just and only for you.” In the Garden, the serpent began the deception, “Did God really say you can’t have anything/everything you want?” What we forget is that we actually don’t want everything.
I have a grandson who is eight months old. I enjoy watching him when he’s at his most alert and wakeful. Everything he sees is exciting and of greatest interest. But I see his head spinning this way and that. He is completely distracted. The world is full. It’s shiny. It quickly becomes eye-rolling-ly overwhelming. Soon he must be picked up and held tightly, with only a gentle hug as his focus.
Eventually, some will see that there is just one thing that is most important for us. This can take a long, long time. I’m fifty-four and am just now discovering what that thing is for me: writing.
My Brothers and Sisters, God chose you to be free. But don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do what pleases your sinful selves. Instead, serve each other with love.
Before now, I thought I wanted so many things. But I got so lost, I ended up doing and accomplishing nothing. Nothing good, anyway. I wasted so much of the most priceless gift I was given: my lifetime.
We know that we belong to God,
but the evil one controls the whole world.
And we know that the Son of God has come and given us understanding…
And He is eternal life.
1 John 5:19-20 ERV
This is the path to discerning The Maker’s purpose. My life has led me – finally – to the point of accepting what we are all created for (to ‘love others’; to ‘serve others with love’), and how I specifically am meant to go about that, (by Sharing God’s Story in my life).
First, I had to learn to say ‘yes’ to:
We must never stop looking to Jesus. He is the leader of our faith, and He is the one who makes our faith complete. He suffered death on a cross. But he accepted (everything about) the cross as if it were nothing because of the joy he could see waiting for Him. And now, he is sitting at the right side of God’s throne.
This about Jesus. He patiently endured the (worst people can do). Think about Jesus so that you won’t get discouraged and stop trying.
Hebrews 12:2-3 ERV
Know God and Christ. Learn to follow Christ’s example about knowing no now.