we have the right to refuseLast week as I was passing through tiny Glenmore, Virginia I noticed a sign in the window of the grocery: “We have the right to refuse anyone.”

Of course they meant “If you’re drunk, we don’t care who you are — we’re not going to sell you any booze.”

But the truth behind the words goes way beyond Virginia’s liquor laws. It might even be a definition of true freedom.

What a wonderful world this would be if each one of us
1. claimed the right to refuse anyone, and
2. freely gave everyone else the right to refuse us, anytime.

The Misery That Can Be Caused by Saying “Yes.”

  • The kid who can’t refuse a dare.
  • The teenager who can’t refuse the homies when they’re doing one more stupid thing.
  • The employee who can’t say “no” to his boss (or his desires) and ends up injured — or worked to death.
  • The man or woman who gets enslaved not by the spouse, but by the need dominate or to please.

And so on and on.

Those who let their hearts be swayed
by the things they hear and see
soon become the pawns of fate,
the playthings of the Enemy.

How do you get to be strong enough to refuse anyone?

Jesus. In him (in his presence) you don’t need to please anyone and you never have to justify yourself.

The guilt you could not wash away
with tears and sweat and sacrifice
vanishes without a trace
in the blood of Jesus Christ.

All he expects of you is to let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” be “no” — and to have a brief, clear answer when he asks, “What do you want?”

We have the right to refuse anyone. Even God.

Many times in Christian meetings I’ve received a word from the Lord to correct someone. Every time I’ve delivered such a word it has blown up in my face.
You might say, “Well, it must not have been the word of the Lord.”
I guess you haven’t read the Bible. How many were imprisoned, tortured or killed because of the Word?
It was the word of the Lord. “My sheep know my voice.”

What I learned from this is that I have as much right as the Glenmore Grocery to refuse anyone. Even God.

Now someone who claims he doesn’t hear from God may think, “We have to obey God. Look at Adam and Eve! If I heard from God I would do everything he says.” That’s probably why you don’t hear from God: You’ve obligated yourself ahead of time to do everything he says, so of course you’re pretending to be deaf.

Apple Orchard

Eating the fruit and disobeying God.

In the famous story of the fall of man there was plenty of communication between man (or woman) and the devil but no communication with each other or with God. That was the real problem. In fact, when God showed up they hid.

What I’m talking about is more like, OK, you’ve eaten the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. So of course God says, “You’ve got to get out of the Garden of Eden.” Instead of first hiding your sin and then meekly obeying God when he says to get out, you say, “I did it. I was wrong. Is there something I can do to get right with you and live in your presence?”

God smiles and says, “Glad you asked. There’s this Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world. Live off his flesh and his blood and you’ll experience my unconditional love. When you walk in love I don’t care what you do. Everything fixes itself.”

So today, after much painful experience, if I get a word of correction for someone I first try to figure out how to express it in a way that will encourage, not condemn.

Those who speak the truth in love
rise above their destiny;
they overcome and sit with God,
above the world they hear and see.

If I can’t, I ask God to find someone else. If he says, “No. You do it.” I usually refuse, saying “Find someone else to do your dirty work.” But sometimes I go in — like one condemned to death in the arena. (With that attitude it’s been difficult, but has always worked out well — so far).

Put yourself in Jesus’ sandals.

“By this men will know you’re my disciples, that you love one another.”

God is Love. He wants you rooted and grounded in love, and he knows how to communicate his pleasure to your spirit.

When you know exactly what you want (in life and beyond) and walk in love, it’s easy to refuse anyone without being ugly about it.

When you know in your heart that you have the right to refuse anyone you can put your heart and soul into everything you do without reservation.
No one is able to put you under pressure.

In fact, the only pressure I have in life right now is self-induced: It’s from our apartment building that gives us a good income, but leaves the threat of a monthly mortgage payment hanging over me. (I’m going to get rid of it. Pray that it goes fast, for a good price. After this I’m swearing off debt. For the third time: “Third time’s a charm.” Then, if I ever borrow money again, promise you’ll rebuke me sharply.)

“Simply let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.'”

When your “yes” is “yes” — and your “no” is “no,” — when you know what you want — and exercise your right to refuse anyone, the evil one has no influence on you.

You get to live in a different world — without leaving home.