"We No Longer Have To Say "Yes, But"

By Rev. James A. Splitt
Sermon June 28, 1998    
Galatians 5:1, 13-25 Luke 9:51-62

The evidence of our faith is revealed in the sincerity of our willingness to follow Jesus Christ.  While many say they will follow Christ, there are as many excuses why those who say they will, never do.  One of the oldest expressions of excuse making is "Yes, but."  This phrase always gives a double meaning:

Yes I will, but no I won't  is what "Yes, but" really means. Or ...Yes, I hear what your saying, but you should really listen to me first.   Or ...Yes,  that sounds good and I'd like to, but it doesn't sound good and I'm not going to.

Whenever, someone is responding to us with the phrase, "Yes, but", there is no point in having any further discussion.  Whatever we say is being rejected on some level.  It is this rejection that gives rise to the nature of making excuses.  Those "would be followers of Jesus" simply were saying ... "Yes, Jesus we will follow you, but first we have other things to do." 
This text shows us how Jesus dealt with rejection

Take a moment and recall the words from the prophet Isaiah,  words that have been set to music in Handel's Messiah, words that have been associated with the kind of rejection experienced by our savior, Jesus Christ:He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with grief and as one form who others hide their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account.  Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried
our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.  (Is. 53:3ff)

Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, near a Samaritan village and he was tired.  He sought lodging and asked messengers (aggelous = angel) to go into the village to make ready for him ... but he was rejected.  Yes we like for you to stay here, but you are headed to Jerusalem so you are not welcome.  We are all familiar with the story of the Good Samaritan.  That story is in sharp contrast to this story where Jesus is turned away by the not so good Samaritans.

The next part of the text begins another story about would be followers of Jesus.  Each agrees to follow Jesus, but have excuses why they can't follow Him at this exact moment.

The pattern of saying "Yes, but" is in our everyday speech.  I will estimate that we say and hear the expression "Yes, but" hundreds of times during the day and most of the time we are not even conscious that we are saying it or hearing it.  It is so common an expression that we are usually numb to its power.  It is always argumentative.  Always the breeding ground of excuse making, and always a pattern of cross communication.  "Yes, but"  are fighting words!

Conflict between any individuals will usually reveal that there is a "Yes, But"   conversation going on at some level.

Hi dear, would you mind helping me out tonight with shopping? Yes dear that sounds like a great way to spend time together, but I promised I would stop back at the office and review a new deal we are putting together for tomorrow.I understand, but it will only take 30 minutes if we go now.Yes, dear I'm sure we could get that shopping done, but I'm waiting for an
important call that I can't afford to miss.

What has to happen so we can get out of saying "Yes, but" and rid ourselves making excuses to follow Christ in our life?  Jesus says if we put our hand to the plow, not to look back.  The word is surrender!  We are to surrender to the authority of Christ.  Christ is to be our Lord and Savior!  We end making excuses when we fully surrender our lives to Jesus Christ.  And then, we no longer have to say, "Yes, but."  Ralph Carmichael wrote the song, "Love is Surrender" back in 1968.  We have to surrender to the will of God:

Talk about love, how it makes life complete.  You can talk all you want, make it sound nice and sweet;but the words have an empty ring, and they don't really mean a thing. Without Him love is no to be found;for love is surrender, love is surrender to His will.

Excuses are empty words; and, Jesus points out to us that empty words will not bring us salvation.  It is only through the act of surrender to God's will that we truly end the pattern of perpetual excuse making.

Another way we stop saying, "Yes, but" is to start saying, "Yes, Lord!"   When I began this sermon, I stated:  The evidence of our faith is revealed in the sincerity of our willingness to follow Jesus Christ.  Saying, YES, LORD is ridding ourselves of all the possibilities of why we might do something else.  We can always find an excuses to avoid doing what the Lord
wants from us.  We say no to the Lord, when our self interest is self defeating.  Excuses keep us from becoming what God wants us to become.  When we turn Christ down, we lose.

Rudyard Kipling in The Lesson wrote: "It was our fault, and our very great fault--now we must turn it to use.  We have forty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse."  The lesson we can learn from this text is that our life will be a failure unless we choose Christ.  We really have no excuses in the end.  Jesus will simply say, "You left the plow and looked back."  It is always our choice to make.  What do you say to Jesus' request,  "Come follow me?"

In order to turn our life around, it takes surrender to God's will, and the willingness to say Yes, Lord.  I will follow you, right now.  Here I Am Lord!  Amen.