What’s the biggest nose you can think of?
For those of you slightly more mature folks, maybe Vaudevillian Jimmy Durante comes to mind. I wouldn’t suggest that except that he made a living partly by making fun of his own nose, even being known as the great "Schnozzola."
Others who became well known for their big no’s were the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. They tended to say “no” to far too many things, often to things that God himself never said “no” to. Jesus criticized them for that.
“They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders,” Jesus said, “But they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them” (Matthew 23:4). In their zeal to enforce God’s laws, they added to them and extended them far beyond the boundaries that God had set. The unfortunate result of that was that they “shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces (Matthew 23:13).
Sometimes, as we discussed last week, our no’s is too small; we don’t say “no” often enough. But it is possible for us, like the Pharisees to have too big of a no’s, too. The apostle Paul was plagued by some in the early church who persistently wanted to say “no” to anyone who was not circumcised or who would not follow Jewish law. In letter after letter, Paul argued for the freedom granted in Christ to say “yes” to those whom God had accepted. He refused to allow his no’s to be bigger than God’s.
We must, too. And that’s sometimes hard, especially for us preachers and church leaders. We want to keep people from what we perceive to be the dangerous ledges, so we build fences to narrow the way more than God himself narrowed it.
That danger of having a no’s too big is just as real and hazardous as having one too small. For example, of some in the first century, Paul said, “They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods” (1 Timothy 4:3). I’m sure their intentions were good, but Paul said that in allowing their no’s to get too big, they had abandoned the faith, become hypocritical liars, and had their consciences seared as with a hot iron (v. 1-2).
Wow! Sounds like an enlarged no’s is extremely dangerous. May God grant us each a no’s that’s just right – just the size of his.