Chapter Four: The Opposites of Yes and No
“No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Luke 16:13
When last we met, we were under the Opposite Tree, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It was the tree that split Eve’s world in two and our history in two. Before she ate, Eve walked with God; after she ate, Eve walked from God. Before Adam ate, the world was upright; after Adam ate, the world was upside-down. As believers, we refer to this event as The Fall. So many things in our lives, in our world, are traced back to The Fall, the time when sin entered through the door of choice. Not only did Adam and Eve receive parting gifts of difficult labor and physical death as they were escorted out of the garden, but the earth also received some baggage of its own. From this time on, new words were added to those which Adam had compiled for the first dictionary; words like weeds and thorns, drought and famine, poisonous and carnivorous, malignant and inoperable…sin and judgment. When we look around at our world today, we trace every hurtful, harmful, hell-bent event back to The Fall. It is one of our turning points in history. And, because its hinges swing two ways, it too reveals the Law of Opposites.
As stated in the last chapter, (what we will now refer to as) The Fall came about because God created a world in which man could choose Him. When God created Adam and Eve, He also created choice. He did not desire programmed but preferential praise…and for that man would need a free will. It was a daring move, but we serve a dauntless God…and a sovereign God, for He already knew the outcome of such an offer so that before Eve said, “Yes,” to the produce, His Son had said, “Yes,” to the plan. It is in these yeses that we continue (or should I say continuum?) our look at the Law of Opposites, for where there is a yes, there is also a no.
In Matthew 5:37, Jesus said to let our yes be yes and our no be no. The context is that of keeping one’s word; we are to mean what we say and to say what we mean. But there is another application we can surmise from Jesus’ advice about our yeses and our nos, and it’s found in the Law of Opposites.
Surely we would all agree that yes and no are opposites. They lie as direct contradictions to one another. I can say yes or no to something, but I cannot say yes and no to the same thing. If I were to place yes and no on a ‘decision line’, then one would lie to the extreme right and the other would lie to the extreme left; they would be opposite one another. With this image of a yes/no line of continuum, it is easy to visualize this next statement: every move toward one end is a move away from the other end. If I take a step toward yes, I move away from no, and if I take a step toward no, I move away from yes. That’s a simple presentation…with a compound application.
When Eve said yes to the serpent, she said no to God; when Adam said yes to Eve, he said no to Elohim. And since that day, since that yes, we’ve been following in their footsteps…right out of the garden and right into the gulley. With every yes we emit to the world, we utter a no to The Way (John 14:6); with every choice we make for, we make a decision against. We say yes to a promotion, we say no to Saturdays at home; we say yes to a new boat, we say no to Sundays at church; we say yes to every activity, we say no to suppers at home. It’s the truth of the yes/no continuum; we can’t move in two directions at the same time, though we often feel pulled in two directions! “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other,” (Luke 16:13); we cannot please both God and the flesh, we cannot go left and right at the same time.
So how do we “walk the line”? How do we let our yes, or our no, move us in the right direction? We take one step at a time, we make one decision at a time. The good news is, being opposites, the same principle applies to both ends of the continuum. Therefore, for every no we reply to the world, there is a yes we release to The Way. This seems so elementary, but it can be enlightening when it comes to the decisions we make. If I can keep my mental eye on both ends of the yes/no continuum, then I can look to see not only what I am moving toward but also what I am moving from. It’s a valuable perspective because, without it, I lose my peripheral vision; without it, I become myopic and see all movement as productive. But, when I step back far enough to see what lies in each direction, then I can “let my yes be yes, and my no be no” for I know not only what I am moving toward, but also what I am moving from.
While this yes/no principle succumbs to the Law of Opposites and, therefore, stands true, God has provided many examples for our benefit…for our encouragement. Let’s start with Noah; he gave God a resounding yes that lasted for 120 years as he committed to the task of building an ark…at a time when the earth had yet to know rain, much less a flood. That yes to building a boat resulted in a no to building an admirable reputation…at least until the rain came. Then, there’s Abraham; he said yes to a new land and no to an established homestead. His yes led to the formation of a nation, which, by and large, is bigger and larger than a homestead. Want another one? How about Rahab? She said yes to hiding some spies and no to those who were looking for them. In doing this, she said yes to Jehovah and no to Jericho; yes to a scarlet line out her window, yes to a bloodline with her Savior. Then, there are some infamous no-givers. How about Joseph who said no to Potiphar’s wife? It was a costly no at first, but its dividends paid off in the end as Joseph went from working in the palace to leading from the palace. Ruth serves as an example of one whose no landed her in a new land…and yielded her a new husband. When told by her mother-in-law to stay in Moab following the death of her husband, Ruth said no and followed Naomi to Bethlehem. There, she met Boaz…and from their lineage the second king of Israel would arise; he too would say no. David was his name; waiting was his game. He’d been anointed as Israel’s future king in his youth, but waiting for God’s plans to unfold kept him walking the fine line of yeses and nos. While he waited for a yes on God’s timing, David had to say a few nos to man’s timing. No to killing Saul when he came into David’s cave and no to killing Saul when David came into his camp. David’s no to taking matters into his own hands led him toward the yes of waiting for God to take matters into His own hands…and He did, and David, in time, became Israel’s second king. The list goes on…Andrew and Peter, James and John, Paul and Silas, (John) Newton and (Charles) Wesley, (Charles) Spurgeon and (D.L.) Moody. Each of these individuals said no to their plans and yes to God’s purpose; each of them had to turn their back to some things that they might turn their heart to one thing, and with each directional step, they let their no be no and their yes be yes.
It’s the Law of Opposites. While practically we can only move in one direction at a time, positionally we can move in two directions as we realize each step toward is also a step from; with each pronounced yes, we are also proclaiming a no. So let’s rightly position ourselves on the yes/no continuum. Let’s look to see where our next step lands us; will we be closer to God or further from Him? Will we say yes to our goals or yes to God’s glory? Will we say no to our plans or no to God’s perfection? We cannot serve two masters; we cannot walk in two directions; we cannot say yes without also saying no.