Yes, No, Maybe So

The last place I expected to learn a spiritual truth about myself was in a book about criminal behavior.

But truth is truth whether it’s in a church, a university, or a library. And this one hit me hard.

Reading through a chapter on predatory behavior, I came across this sentence. “No, is a word that must never be negotiated, because the person who chooses not to hear it is trying to control you.”

Now—everything we could say about children’s manipulative ways aside—I immediately heard, “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.”

It got me to thinking—how many times do I not hear someone’s ‘no.' Click To Tweet

Obviously not in a criminal way (at least you hope not) but in a “helpful” way?

“Do you need a hand with that? No? Are you sure?”

“Do you want a piece of cake? No? It’s good…”

Is this really a big deal?

Is it wrong to manipulate a situation when you see you can bring about good by doing so?  What’s wrong with taking a bit of control instead of respecting the answer given? What would happen if we respected each other’s yes as yes and no as no?

It would leave us firmly in control of our own actions. If we want something, but are too proud/embarrassed/insecure to answer yes, then we will experience the consequence of not being truthful.


We are suddenly presented with an opportunity to grow. To humble ourselves. Click To Tweet

What would it look like if we always said yes when we meant yes and no when we meant no? Would we think more often before we answer, knowing we’ll be taken at face value?

Would we be more trusted?

What would it look like if we refuse to second-guess another person’s answer and allow them the responsibility of their own answers? Would we foster growth? Click To Tweet

I don’t know but I’m willing to relinquish my control to find out.

Action step

Read Matthew 5:37

Does the thought of leaving someone’s yes at yes and no at no challenge or frighten you? Why or why not? Share your experience with us.

15 thoughts on “Yes, No, Maybe So”

  1. There are times when I have said “yes” and I should have said “no” to an opportunity. I have learned that by saying no sometimes, that gives other people the opportunity to be blessed. 🙂

    1. That’s an eye-opening point, Melissa. So often I only see my own guilty feelings over saying no to something but it’s freeing if I look at it that way. My no could be opening up a way to let someone else say yes. Great point!

  2. Jesus is the only human being who was ever able to do this. His yeses all meant yes. His no’s all meant no. That’s it. Just him. This is why so many boundary books and counselors are out there. Our boundaries are broken. All of us. We don’t know how to consistently say “yes” when we want to, and we don’t know how to say “no” when we don’t. But, true growth into the image of Jesus must include this. We lay aside manipulation of others by not accepting their yeses and no’s. We embrace our status as humans made in the image of God and accountable for our yeses and no’s. We affirm who we are in Christ with our good choices, strength of character, and good boundaries. I look forward to this type of wholeness when I see the Lord face to face. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

    1. Yes and amen, Melinda. So many boundary boundaries are ignored when we don’t know how or don’t remember or don’t care to be consistent with our yes and no. You’ve summed it up so eloquently here. Thank you for commenting.

  3. Wow, Stephanie. That line from the criminal behavior book is so powerful. And I think you’ve hit on something we all need to consider. In some ways your last question about taking someone’s yes as yes and no as no is a challenge. In essence, I think it depends on the details of the situation and the people involved. But in general, we should respect the other person’s answer of yes or no.

    For example, I have a parent who always tried (and still tries) to manipulate and control everything about our relationship, family, and even about my actions and responses to their wrong behavior. So, while I think letting them own their response is a good thing, they should also own other stuff…like behavior, words, and sin. And so should we.

    1. True words, Karen. You’ve uncovered the truth behind the matter. We all need to own our own stuff. Each one of us. And bravely call truth truth when someone tries to make us own their baggage. Thank you for this insight.

  4. It’s amazing how the Holy Spirit highlighted this simple yet profound truth through a book on criminal behavior! What a powerful point you make through your examples here. I can see I have often added on to another’s yes or no, in an effort to do what? I’m not really sure. Thank you for bringing this to my awareness. Let others’ yes and no mean just that, like our own. Wondering what the next book you read will reveal? I can’t wait to find out! Blessings to you!

  5. A very different take on the topic of yes/no and so very accurate. As I watch my grandchildren grow, they don’t take no as no, they keep asking and whining until the no becomes a yes. Don’t we do the same thing when God offers us a no. Because we don’t understand that God knows what’s best for us,

    1. I think you’re right, Yvonne. We often do take the same approach as whiny children. And then we can cover it up by saying we are being persistent in prayer:). May God mature us until what we want is what He wants!

  6. A person who doesn’t honor a “no” IS trying to control you, that is for sure! And like the others have mentioned, today’s societal boundaries have been so completely blurred that our words don’t seem to pack the punch that they used to. It seems people don’t respect others words much, or try to manipulate their meaning to mean something else. No should always mean NO, and vice-a-versa. That does build trust, as you mention.

  7. Pingback: Words | Stephanie M. Gammon

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: