I’ve noticed a concerning trend in our busy culture. It’s in the way we can parse our words to make others think we are saying one thing, while we are actually giving ourselves an “out” in case we need it. You know, giving ourselves a little wiggle room.
Let me illustrate. I ask someone, “Are you going to the party on Friday night?” And the answers I get sound like this:
- “I’m planning on it.”
- “Sure gonna try.”
- “It looks like I’ll be there.”
They walk away smiling, and I’m left standing there wondering, “Was that a yes? Are they really going to be there? Or are they keeping their options open in case a better offer comes along?”
Even on Facebook’s event invitations, I have the option to check “Attending,” “Not Attending” or “Maybe Attending.”
Are we truly undecided? Or are we uncommitted to our decisions?
Here’s the danger in being undecided about something as innocent as going to a party: The indecision anywhere can start a pattern that carries over to every part of my life, and then undecided in one area can easily be uncommitted in all areas.
The greatest danger: being uncommitted to the life God has called you and me to live.
- “God, I’ll follow You anywhere (as long as I have a comfy bed every night).”
- “I’m totally committed to You (but I have to take care of my family).”
- “I’ve put You first (but I want to have some fun too).”
Undecided … parsing words … giving yourself an out … saying what you haven’t committed to … Jesus directly addressed the dangers of this type of speech—
And don’t say anything you don’t mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, “I’ll pray for you,” and never doing it, or saying, “God be with you,” and not meaning it. You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say “yes” and “no.” When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong. (Matthew 5:33-37, The Message)
If you say “yes,” make your “yes” mean “yes.” Or else, just say “no.”
Say what you mean and mean what you say.
Not my words, but Christ’s: “Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.”
Decide … commit … say it … mean it.