More Than You Can Chew

“Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:37‬ ‭

I saw the crumbs first.

Then the serious intensity that could only indicate a compulsion to chat.

“Teacher? Can I tell you something?”

Of course she could, I indicated with what I hoped was an encouraging smile.

Thus emboldened, the crumbs quivered. “I was eating some cookies for snack -“ (indeed, the evidence strongly backed this claim) – “and I accidentally chewed my fingers. All of them.”

My face must have indicated my horror at this admission because she quickly added, “But it’s okay. Only one of them hurts.” And having divested herself of this communication, off she skipped to put her lunch kit away.

Ah, littles.

They never cease to entertain.

And illuminate.

Because as I got thinking later, who of us hasn’t bitten off a little more than we can chew and paid the price?

Yes, I’ll bring some baking to that fundraiser. Sure, I’ll coach that team. Of course, sign me up to drive the kids to their tournament. And it’s a big fat uh-huh to this, that, and the other – and then some.

And then, when we’ve gotten a huge wad of cookies -er, activities jammed right in there, we chow down and it really, really hurts.

And we only have ourselves to blame.

This teaching by Jesus follows a conversation about making foolish promises or elaborate vows, but it also makes sense in the context of setting up healthy boundaries in what we agree to. See, Jesus isn’t saying to sign up for everything we can. He’s saying to be honest about how you handle your commitments.

‘Let your yes be yes.’ If you say yes to something, follow through. Be faithful to do what you promised to do. Do it with a willing heart and a positive attitude, and to the best of your ability.

But look.

‘Let your no be no.’

As in, you are allowed – no, actually encouraged – to say no. No explanation. No justification. No long story about why you can’t.

Just no.


How freeing is that?

Now, don’t take this too far. We should be contributing in real ways to our communities and families; we are called to serve others in other Biblical teaching. This is not a free pass so we can live selfishly. Rather, we ought to be wise in what we agree to do, ensuring that we have the resources to properly finish the task set before us.

So before you take that stack of Oreos a little too far and your wee fingers get trapped between your teeth, be careful that you can actually chew what you bit off.

Be wise in the responsibilities you take on with me?

Father, how refreshing to find that Jesus taught us to operate using wise and firm boundaries! Help us to know what to agree to, and what to let go of. Help us to firmly but kindly say no when we need to. Amen.

Published by melodylowes

I am actually a bit of a mess. But in the mess, I’m finding security in knowing I am chosen, I am forgiven, and I matter. After uncovering a history of abuse in my past, I have done a lot of healing - and writing is one way I can invite you deeper into your own healing journey! I write devotionals about the complicated thing called life at, and my poetry is stashed at Pull up a chair and a coffee or tea and let's grow together!

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