Several years ago, I remember when stores started offering a drive-up order pick-up service. My first thought at seeing such a lavish amenity was disgust. What kind of people are so entitled that they cannot shop for groceries? So it was with great boasting that I declared, “I will never be one of those people”—I haven’t been in that store more than twice last year, thanks to the drive-up orders, and I love it.
Throughout the years, my girls would ask for a dog, and my response was that we weren’t pet people. When their friends got dogs, the pleas would begin anew; I would repeat that we weren’t pet people and would never get a dog—our puppy is eight months old now, and his name is Bear.
After over a decade of teaching in elementary school, I was delighted and secure looking down at those poor, haggard junior high and high school teachers and the sub-human lifeforms they had to teach. Several times I thanked God I was an elementary teacher, and said I would never teach in junior high— I am now in my second year of teaching high school and junior high, and while it is frustrating and amusing when I ask for a sentence with a nominative case pronoun and am given, “Bob fell out of the tree,” it is also rewarding in its own way.
My list could continue, but I’m sure you’ve noticed the theme by now. When we say never, it often comes from a place of pride. I don’t think we are supposed to say never. James 5:12 says:
But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.
The problem with saying never is that we usually do what we said we would never do. I believe, and the Lord has taught me, that rather than saying, “I will never…,” perhaps a better approach would be to say, “I will strive to walk with God today. I will read my Bible today. I will be the family member my family needs today. I’ll be the staff member I was hired to be.” When we focus on the never, it is like there is a point of pride in what we purpose we will never do. The everyday Christian life isn’t about the declarations of never but rather about choosing to do the right thing every day. So, never say never; perhaps instead, just say, “Today, by God’s grace, I will ______.” Then, you can fill in the blank.
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Mrs. Chung grew up around the work of the ministry and now has the privilege of teaching at the North Valley Baptist Schools. She and her husband faithfully teach young people and are a vital asset to the ministry of NVBC.