Learn to say "no" to make your "yes" really "yes"

Matthew 5:33-37

Politicians seem to have a bad reputation for not doing what they say. They are known for making promises they cannot keep and for saying things just to please people.  We need to make sure that we do not fall into the same trap.

It is very important that we be trustworthy and sincere.  People should believe what we say.  An extreme example of someone who was not trustworthy is the boy from the story The Boy Who Cried Wolf.  This boy repeatedly tried to trick the villagers into thinking that a wolf was attacking his flock when in reality there was no wolf.  Eventually the villagers caught on that he was not being truthful.  When a wolf really did attack the flock and the boy sought help, no one believed him and so no one came to his aid.  What the boy said was no longer worth anything.  Sometimes when people realize that those around them no longer believe what they say, they try to swear by some higher authority in order to lend credence to their words. People “swear to God” that they are telling the truth.  We are called to be trustworthy in what we say.  We should not have to appeal to some higher authority for people to believe us.  In this way we imitate God.  God is always truthful; He does what He says he will.  We find a great example in the creation story in the Book of Genesis.  There God says “let there be light” and there was light.  He means what He says and He does what He says.  When we are trustworthy and sincere we imitate God.

Sometimes we end up saying things we do not mean or making promises we cannot keep because we do not want to offend others.  Sometimes we fall into the trap of insincerity because we do not want to hurt the feelings of others.  Something that comes to mind immediately is that when people ask us for their help it can be very difficult to say “no” to them.  We have this desire to make everyone happy and we do not want the other person to feel hurt.  Because of this we often agree to do something we cannot do or really do not want to do.  This can often happen to me at the parish.  People will ask if I can help with something and before I even think if I really can, I hear myself saying “yes”. Sometimes I realize later that I have double-booked myself or have committed to doing something I cannot really do.  I am then forced to go back on my word.  My “yes” becomes a “no”.  People can then feel more offended and hurt than if I had just said “no” in the first place.  Learning to say “no” to people is a difficult task, but if we want to be people who are sincere and trustworthy, it is something that we must do sometimes.  We have to avoid falling into the trap of saying things we do not mean or making promises we cannot keep because we do not want to offend others.

Jesus calls us to be people of our word.  We should mean what we say and do what we mean.  Today let us take a look at the way we speak to see if our “yes” really means “yes” and our “no” really “no”.  In particular let see that we do not fall into the trap of saying things we do not mean or agreeing to do things we cannot do just because we do not want to hurt someone’s feelings.