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February 22, 1998

Just Say Yes

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Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back later; I’ll give it tomorrow”— when you now have it with you. PROVERBS 3:27-28
Most of us aren’t as cold-hearted as Charles Dickens’s Ebenezer Scrooge, who, when asked for a charitable gift, told the collectors to let London’s poor people die and “decrease the surplus population.” When someone asks us for something, we may couch our response more diplomatically, but the answer is often the same—no.
It’s usually easy to come up with ten reasons to say no without even blinking. Our lives and our resources are stretched among professional, personal, and spiritual responsibilities. We say no so often that it becomes second nature: “I’m sorry, I can’t, but try me again next week—maybe I’ll have more time.” When was the last time you said yes?
Maybe a coworker is pulling extra hours trying to complete a project by deadline. Sure, you have plenty of tasks to keep you busy, but things aren’t as hectic for you now as they have been. If your colleague asks for your help, your first impulse might be to find a polite way to refuse and then use your extra time to take advantage of the beautiful weather on the golf course.
Or maybe you’re driving to work and see a homeless person shivering under a newspaper on the same park bench every morning. Your eyes meet as you’re stopped at the light, and you quickly look away—just like every other morning. You try to put him out of your mind or say to yourself that next month maybe you’ll try to do something for the man, secretly hoping that by next month he’ll have found a new post and your conscience won’t be pricked so unpleasantly.
We’re commanded to do good for our needy and deserving neighbors—not with lip service and not tomorrow. We’re to act today. So the next time you’re faced with a real, tangible need that you can do something about, fight the impulse to say no. Say yes, and make a difference in someone’s life.

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