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Saying Yes but Doing No

In spite of advances in pharmaceuticals and a plethora of books on parenting, I suspect this still happens. When I was a child, I occasionally ignored my father’s instructions. Shocking, right?

Oh, I didn't blatantly disobey. I was subtle. It was important for Dad to think that I was obeying. But there were times when his expectations just were not reasonable.

For example, Dad would come through the living room while I was watching cartoons on Saturday morning. In those primitive days, that was the only day they were on, so it was vital that I not miss them. But Dad would say something ridiculous like, “Keith, you need to go cut the grass.”

I was smart enough to want to keep Dad happy, so I would say, “Yes sir.”

A few minutes later, Dad would return and rudely interrupt the Road Runner to say, “Boy! Didn’t you tell me that you would cut the grass?”

It was a bad sign when Dad called me “Boy!” I think it meant, “You are not grown yet, and you may not survive long enough to ever be.”

Not wanting to cause trouble, I kept my thoughts to myself. “Sure, I said I’d cut the grass, but I never said when. Next week works fine for me.”

My father was obviously displeased when I ignored his instructions, particularly when I said “Yes” but did “no.” That also clearly displeases our heavenly Father quite a bit.

Jesus told of a father who told his two sons to work in the family vineyard. One said no, but later changed his mind and did what he had been told. The other said yes, but didn’t actually do what he’d been told. "Which of the two did what his father wanted?" Jesus asked, knowing the answer to be obvious (Matthew 21:31).

What is shocking about the parable is how Jesus applied it. He compared church folks to the second son – the one who said the right thing but didn’t do the right thing. The other son who eventually repented and obeyed, Jesus said represented “the tax collectors and the prostitutes” who were entering God’s kingdom ahead of the church folks.

Sometimes, as a child, I ignored my father’s instructions. Sometimes, as adults, we ignore our Father’s instructions. It’s easy to say yes, but do nothing. It is not hard to claim to follow Jesus, but not go where he leads. However, no choice to ignore a father’s instructions ever produces good results.

As we begin new year, let’s insure that do yes as well as say yes to everything God tells us.


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