One of my favorite movies is “The Proposal.” “Margaret,” (the character Sandra Bullock plays) displays an amazing array of personal, selfish, obnoxious character traits. And one of her worst qualities is her inability to be told “no” and live with it.
She is a Canadian and has over stayed her visa. She screams “no” in the face of deportation and wants the process to work her way. She can’t stand being in a long line waiting for a clerk, so she just cuts the line and demands service. She doesn’t do “no.”
You and I are living is a world devoid of personal self-discipline. We want instant gratification, we want it done our way and on our terms. Jacob, the Old Testament patriarch, could be a poster boy for that kind of living. He wanted Rachel for his wife and wanted her on his own terms. Genesis 29 tells how that went for him (spoiler alert: not well!).
Later Jacob snuck out of town trying to avoid his father-in-law and Genesis 31 tells us about their encounter (there was an angry confrontation). And then Jacob wrestles with God in Chapter 32. He wants a blessing from the Lord. And yet, when the sun came up the next morning, Jacob left that place of prayer with a life long limp. He never walked the same way again.
Our culture is deeply infected with this disease of self-centeredness. We do not want to be told what to do. We want what we want and we want it now.
And it’s not just those “other” guys who have the problem. I suspicion that it is me and you too!
Recently I have been observing how long it takes for me to sense my own impatience with others. How long does it take for me to be slightly irritated at the slow driver in the car ahead of me? How long does it take for me to roll my eyes at the folks blocking my path down a grocery aisle? How quickly do I voice irritation with my family or friends?
Time for us all to review James’ very practical advice: “Be patient…be patient and stand firm… don’t grumble against each other…set an example of patience…blessed are those who persevere.” (James 5: 7-11)
This is a great week for us all to practice doing “NO!