Attention, Pretzel People: It’s ok to say “no”…

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV)

“It’s ok to say ‘no’ to people.” The reminder came from my husband on his way out the door as he saw me trying to accommodate the schedules of several people all on the same day. His parting words stuck around a lot longer than he did because I haven’t been able to quit thinking about the truth found in his statement.

I know this. I’ve said the very same thing to him and to me and to others for much longer than I care to recount, but I needed to hear it again today.

Maybe you do, too? Maybe in this Christmas season someone else has lost focus for just a bit, as well?

So. What does that have to do with Ephesians 5:1-2, you ask? Well, quite a bit, actually. Let’s break it down a bit. There are some really important things to see here:

  1. “Be imitators of God…” Notice that it is God we are to imitate, not anyone/everyone else. Before you succumb to the expectations of others or become a pretzel trying to do what “everyone else” is doing or wants to do this holiday season, check with your Maker. What does He require of you–today and every day after this one?
  2. The “therefore” is there for telling us how we’re to live out the imitation of God–how we are to follow Him. We’re to do that as “dearly loved children and live a life of love.” The phrase “dearly loved” does not mean you have to be responsible for every one else’s happiness this season. Children are rarely put in charge…for lots of reasons. We’re simply not equipped for it and we are not in charge. God is. We just have to know that we’re loved and love others in the process. (Hint: this will not end when the holiday season passes.)
  3. The phrase “just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” tells us that we are not to be selfish or self-centered. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be logical about your own limitations. It means that God should be your priority and the real reason you choose to celebrate this season…not because other people expect you to do so in any given way. It also tells me that God may require us to do some things this season (or any other time of year) that might be out of our comfort zones. The trick is to make sure that it is actually GOD who is doing the requiring and not someone else. It’s too easy to get caught up in our own misguided desire to be all things to all the people we love and cherish or those we simply want to impress. (Ouch.)

This message is a public service announcement and early Christmas present brought to you by the former (and obviously still reforming!) Queen of the Pretzel People: It really is ok to say, “no.”

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