Friday 1/22/2016 7:13 AM
When I was growing up there was a comedian, Flip Wilson, who played a character named Geraldine Jones. Geraldine was a sassy young woman who took crap from no one. She was most well known for a couple of lines that came up regularly in her conversation. They were, “What you see is what you get” and “The devil made me do it.”
M. Shawn Copeland writes the following the article, “Saying Yes and Saying No.” “Daily personal prayer, examination of conscience, and participation in a faith-sharing group: these smaller practices can be of real benefit to us in sustaining the larger practice of saying yes to life, saying no to destruction. Together, they help us to understand, judge, and evaluate our daily choices and decisions in light of their relation to our ultimate happiness, as individuals and as humans in community. If we are to enhance and build up the capacities for a good, wholesome, and holy life, we must learn to say yes to what affirms and renews wholeness and life. and we must learn to say a related no to what induces and brings about destruction and ruin. In this practice, we are invited and challenged to make a fully conscious choice about who it is we are and who it is we shall become.”
Titus 2:11 reads, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to lead self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”
The culture in which I live has the philosophy and attitude of Geraldine Jones. It nurtures the notion that I am a victim of circumstances that are bigger than I am, sweeping me along to places I may not want to go. What I see is what I get and there is nothing I can do that will change it. I am also encouraged to accept no personal responsibility for my actions. Any untoward circumstances I encounter or outcomes of my actions are always someone else’s fault, never my own. The devil, or one of his minions made me do it.
In a world without God I am ruled by sin and its consequences. But, praise God, by his grace I am able to say no to ungodliness and to say yes to leading a self-controlled life, set apart from the life the world claims is my fate, or lot in life. I am not a victim of circumstance or the whims of others. I can choose a path that leads to fulfillment and wholeness and avoid the things that being about destruction and ruin. I pray that I can listen to the truth of God’s grace rather than the lies of Geraldine Jones.