One of God’s favorite words is yes, and it is often said that His love language is obedience. There are a ton of scripture that we can find that confirms this, but Isaiah 1:19 is one of my favorites. It says, “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good of the land.”
As I was thinking about writing this blog post and how we must give God our full yes, God began to remind me of different Bible characters that gave Him an assortment of answers when He instructed them to do something. Many of us know these Bible stories, but let’s review them with fresh eyes.
As you read today’s post, I encourage you to think about how you are specifically showing up in your life and whether you’re giving God a full yes with your whole heart. Allow the Holy Spirit to reveal to you areas that you may be lacking so that you can grow into the full measure of who God has called you to be. There are also some helpful reflection questions that you can download here or use the link at the bottom of this blog post.
But let’s look at our first character who flat out told God no.
No – Jonah
Jonah is a popular Bible character who was swallowed up by a whale. The reason why is because God instructed him to travel to Nineveh, but instead of obeying God, Jonah gets on a boat and sails to Tarsus, which is in the opposite direction of Nineveh. Basically, Jonah is completely rebellious and disobedient.
The crazy part is he didn’t run away in fear. He ran because He didn’t want God to show mercy to a city that Jonah considered undeserving of redemption. So in response to Jonah’s disobedience, God sends a storm, which ultimately affects the caption and sailors that are on the boat.
Ironically, the one who is chosen by God to prevent judgment on the people of Nineveh is now the reason for divine punishment for himself and pagan sailors.
There’s a couple of things that we can pull out of this story. When we are rebellious or disobedient towards God by telling him no, we experience consequences that not only affect us and our lives, but also the lives of the people around us.
So from this example, it’s pretty obvious that we shouldn’t tell God no, but what about the times when we’re telling God no because we’re too scared to say yes?
Scared to Say Yes (Still Saying No) – Moses
Moses didn’t give God a flat-out no like Jonah, but in some ways he told God no out of fear. If you’re familiar with the story, I’m referring to the moment at the burning bush when God calls Moses to go to Pharaoh and request the release of His people.
Now, if you look closer at the text, Moses has 5 different reactions to God’s simple instruction. The first time, he responds to God out of insecurity. He says, “Who am I that I’m the one you’ve chosen to do this?” but God is kind and reminds Moses that He would be with him. Then Moses questions God by asking Him, “Who should I say sent me?”
At this point of the story, God introduces Himself as I am that I am, which means eternal power and unchangeable character. God also revealed Himself as promise keeper too.
But then Moses responds with doubt. He asks God, “What if they don’t believe me?” And what does God do? He performs 3 miracles that give Moses the backing to support his claims. Still, Moses responds with more insecurity (this is the fourth excuse in case you were counting), and he tells God that he struggles with speaking. Moses is concerned with his ability and gifting, yet again God responds by saying He would help him speak.
And here at the 5th response is when Moses has gotten on God’s last nerve (or at least this is how I like to make Bible stories plain to me lol). Moses asks God to send someone else (unwillingness) and out of everything Moses has said, this is only time God responds in anger because Moses is unwilling to go to Egypt. He’d rather God send someone else.
This goes to show us that God can take our insecurities, our questions, our doubt, even our lack of gifting, but He is angered by our unwillingness. Refer back to Isaiah 1:19. God wants us to be willing and obedient.
So what insecurities, questions, and doubts do you need to submit to God? How can you trust God and give him your full yes rather than worrying about what you bring to the table? How can you focus on His faithfulness instead?
If you’re afraid to give God your yes because of any of the reasons I listed above, rest knowing that God will always be with you and He is faithful to do what He has promised. He will help you. He just simply wants your yes.
So hopefully by this point, you’ve decided in your heart that you won’t tell God no, but this bring me to my next question. Are you giving God a FULL yes? Let’s look at a few Bible characters who didn’t do this.
Saying Yes to One Thing But Not The Other (Partial Obedience) – Saul
1 Samuel 15
The first half-yes is through the example of Saul.
If you don’t know the story, God instructs Saul to completely destroy the Amalekite nation (men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys – EVERYTHING), but Saul doesn’t completely do what God asks him to do.
Instead of being completely obedient, he is partially obedient. He destroys everything but the king and the best herd to use for sacrifices. Basically, he only destroys what HE thinks is worthless or poor quality. The problem with Saul is he thinks that he knows better than God.
We’ve all heard partial obedience is still disobedience and it’s true. God wants our obedience rather than what we personally think is best. He doesn’t need our sacrifices, our money, or our good intentions at the cost of our obedience.
But how many times have we somehow done this without really knowing that that’s what we’re doing? If we take a look at our lives, it’s possible that we can find one area where we’re saying yes, but another area where we’re completely disregarding or disobeying.
Or maybe you are being obedient, but are you doing it halfheartedly?
Halfhearted Yes – Cain & Abel
In Genesis 4, we learn about Cain (a farmer) and Abel (a shepherd) who both bring an offering to the Lord. Cain brings some of his crops, but Abel brings the best portion of his flock. God accepts Abel’s gift, but not Cain’s gift, which causes us to ask, why was God pleased with Abel’s sacrifice but not Cain’s?
It’s because Cain was just doing it just to do it. He was checking it off of his to-do list and the Bible doesn’t say this, but for Abel to bring his best, he most likely went through his entire flock. He probably examined each sheep and checked each of them for blemishes. He took his time to find the best ones, and then he presented God with the best that he had.
This shows that God evaluates not only the quality of what we offer him, but also our motives. Out of his grace and love, God even gives Cain an opportunity to try again, but Cain refuses because he is in a state of rejection, and it’s so bad that he kills his brother out of jealousy.
Are you serving God with a cheerful heart or are there mistakes from your past that are preventing you from giving God a better offering? Are you serving just to serve or are you giving Him the BEST of what’s in you? The best attitude, the best heart posture, the best offering, the best sacrifice?
Never forget that what we give and how we give it matters to God. He cares about our hearts and if you find yourself irritated, frustrated, discontent, or disgruntled with where you are right now, it may be time to check what’s going on inside your heart.
But enough examples of people who didn’t get it right. Let’s check out my girl, Mary who gave God her full yes.
Full Yes – Mary
Mary is the mother of Jesus and she is a virgin when she gives birth to Him. Take time to really think about this. She is a young, unmarried pregnant woman. At the time, this is a HUGE risk. If her father wanted to, he could have rejected her and Mary could have potentially ended up begging or living in prostitution for the rest of her life just to make a living.
She didn’t know what her life would look like, but she willingly obeyed when God asked her to serve Him. She responded to the angel of the Lord by saying, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.”
If we look at other stories in the Bible, any time God announced a pregnancy, people either laughed or doubted God, but Mary believed and graciously submitted.
The truth is we won’t always have the opportunity to understand what God is asking us to do, but will you give God your yes anyways? And will you give it to Him and stand in faith that He will do the impossible rather than laugh or doubt?
To take it a step further, sometimes it will be hard to give God your yes, but we must do it even when it doesn’t personally serve us. Let’s look at just a couple more Bible characters who gave God their full yes in the midst of personal discomfort.
Say Yes When It Doesn’t Personally Serve You
Noah gave God his yes even though he was ridiculed by people who never experienced rain. Abraham left his family and everything he knew to move to a foreign land. David honored his boss, served him, and even spared his life even though his boss was jealous of him and tried to kill him.
Joseph lived in integrity even when he was accused of something he didn’t do. He interpreted dreams and was kind to prison guards even though he himself was in prison. Daniel served God even though he risked being thrown into a lion’s den. Paul shared the gospel even though people judged him for being someone who persecuted Christians.
At the end of the day, God is always instructing each of us to do something. And if we’re honest, He deserves our yes! He died on the cross for our sins, took on our shame, carries our burdens, showers us with unmerited grace, and blesses us beyond comprehension. The LEAST we can do is give Him our yes.
So no matter the sacrifice, no matter the cost, no matter the pain, I encourage you to always check your heart and ask if you’re giving God your full yes. The amazing thing about God is that when you give Him your yes, there are so many blessings that come as a result.
The goal isn’t to give God our yes just so we can receive His blessings, but to obey as an act of love and gratitude for everything He’s already done for us!
Can I end in prayer?
God, thank you for the person reading this post. I pray that you would continue to bless them and remind them of how much you love them. Help them to give you a full yes with their full heart. Help them to choose you over and over again no matter what it looks like or feels like. Help them to love you with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. In Jesus Name, amen.
As a reminder, there are some reflection questions with this post that I encourage you to use in your quiet time with the Lord. I think you’ll find them super helpful and insightful.
Hanha Hobson is an author, speaker, and the founder of Transparency Ministries. From published devotionals to empowerment workshops, she will stop at nothing to see women encounter God and she is passionate about teaching and equipping them to live a life of freedom. When she is not encouraging others or writing her heart out, she enjoys watching Grey’s Anatomy, eating Chickfila, and connecting with friends on Instagram. Come say hi!