“Yes” and “no” should be considered a form of priceless currency. Your “yes” and your “no” have a buying power beyond anything you have ever considered.
Yes and no are forms of currency that should not fluctuate in value. They have an absolute value, or they have no value at all. Let me illustrate:
You work all day on Monday and the boss gives you two hundred‐dollar bills. You go to the store and buy a week's worth of groceries for your family and it costs you $200.
On the next Monday, you work all day and this time the boss gives you a hundred‐dollar bill. You ask her why, and she tells you the value of the currency has changed; a day's work is now worth $100. You go to the store and put half the groceries you did the week before into your cart, because you have half the money to spend. When you check out, the cashier asks you for $200. You remind him that last week you bought twice this amount of groceries for $200. But he tells you the value of the currency has changed.
Exactly how long would you put up with this kind of nonsense? But we put up with fluctuating values for yes and no every day.
Children are notorious for manipulating the fluctuating values of their parents' yes and no. Rather than have a consistent yes or no for a child's behavior, Dad says “Yes” on the day Mom says “No.” But the next day Dad says “No” and Mom says “Yes.” And the child learns that yes and no are just negotiable terms.
Career politicians are notorious for devaluing their yes and no to the point that the two terms can be used almost interchangeably. Constituents can expect to hear their concerns addressed with “Yes” if they're in favor of something, or with “No if they're against something. But constituents also realize that either response is largely meaningless when it comes to politicians addressing their concerns.
Salespeople are notorious for tending to oversell their yes and undersell their no. Consequently, the products we buy frequently do not measure up to our expectations. Picture first‐time home buyers complaining to the realty company after the first heavy rain: “Before we closed on this house, we asked your agent if there were any drainage problems in the back yard. He told us, ‘No. There's no problem.’ But what he didn't say was, ‘No. There's no problem—as long as you're wearing hip waders.’”
But then… do I have any room to criticize? I've failed in both marriage and business, so I've had plenty of times when I couldn't fulfill either my “Yes” or my “No.” How about you? I'm certain that I'm not alone in this struggle.
So why don't we start over with a fresh perspective?
United States paper currency is backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. What is backing up your yes and your no? That's the real issue. That's the starting point. What gives us the ability to back up our yes or our no with the appropriate action, regardless of the circumstances? How can we make our “Yes” always mean yes, and our “No” always mean no?
There was a time in our nation's history when Federal Reserve notes (U.S. currency) could be exchanged at a Federal Reserve Bank for gold. Prior to 1933, the dollar bill said the following: “This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private, and is redeemable in lawful money at the United States Treasury or at any Federal Reserve Bank.” Now, it says: “This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private.” What happened?
This question is answered by pulling a quote directly from the U.S. Treasury website:
Federal Reserve notes are not redeemable in gold, silver or any other commodity, and receive no backing by anything. This has been the case since 1933. The notes have no value for themselves, but for what they will buy. In another sense, because they are legal tender, Federal Reserve notes are “backed” by all the goods and services in the economy. (http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/faqs/Currency/Pages/legal-tender.aspx)
Yes, that's a direct quote from the Treasury Department website. It doesn't exactly inspire confidence in U.S. currency. I think most Americans can imagine a scenario where a wheel barrow full of dollar bills wouldn't buy a case of water. (In 1923, Germany's currency was supposedly so worthless that it was used as insulation by some citizens.) And yet we place our financial security in something not even backed up by anything.
Is your yes backed up by anything? Is your no backed up by anything? I used to say yes and no as if I could back them up by the sheer force of my will. But I can't always do so. God warns us about committing to a yes or a no we can't back up:
You have also heard that our ancestors were told, “You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the LORD.” But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, “By heaven!” because heaven is God's throne. And do not say, “By the earth!” because the earth is his footstool. And do not say, “By Jerusalem!” for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. Do not even say, “By my head!” for you can't turn one hair white or black. Just say a simple, “Yes, I will,” or “No, I won't.” Anything beyond this is from the evil one. (Matthew 5:33–37 NLT)
Our culture here in America has little to no regard for the value of yes and no. And this enrages those of us who cherish the faithfulness of God's Word to us. But we must be careful to not overreact by trying to back up our own word… on our own… without God. We must be intentional about not promising what we can't deliver.
When I say something, I want to be able to keep it. It's important to me to keep my word. But I can't keep my word, if the only thing I have backing it up is “me.”
Over the next few days we will take a look at how to make our “Yes” mean yes, and our “No,” mean no, by understanding what it means to be backed by the God of the universe.
Have a good day,