Here are three things you must never say to God.
1. Never Say, “No”
There were at least three different times in the life of Peter where he said, “No” to Jesus; and none of these instances went well for him. In John 13:7-8, Jesus was washing the disciples’ feet. It states:
Jesus answered him, ‘What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.’ Peter said to him, ‘You shall never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.’”
Peter couldn’t understand why his master would lower himself to wash the disciples’ feet. Jesus knew he wasn’t going to understand, which is why he prefaced this before he washed Peter’s feet. Peter’s confusion, however, was not a good reason to say no. Jesus didn’t need Peter to understand. He just needed him to say yes. In Matthew 26:34-35, Jesus was trying to warn Peter about his coming betrayal. It states:
Jesus said to him, ‘Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.’ Peter said to him, ‘Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!’ And all the disciples said the same.”
Again, in this moment, Peter couldn’t understand why Jesus would ever say that he would reject him. But Jesus didn’t need to Peter to understand right now. He just wanted Peter to obey and not betray. Because Peter said no, it happened just like Jesus said. In Acts 10:14-17, God gave Peter a vision to eat unclean food to show him that God was going to save the Gentiles too. It states:
But Peter said, ‘By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.’ And the voice came to him again a second time, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’ This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven. Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate . . .”
Peter was inwardly perplexed. But this did not change the facts of what God had said. God didn’t need Peter to understand. He just needed him to say yes. And in time, God made it clear to Peter that the gospel was for all people, not just the Jews (Acts 10:34-43).
You can be confused. You can ask God for clarity. You can ask God for the strength to do what you feel you cannot do. But never say no to God. That will never turn out well.
God never changes his plan because we say no. He simply continues to do what he has planned to do. Your no will only cause you to miss God’s will or to be taught how to say yes through discipline that you could have avoided, like Jonah who rejected God’s call and then was disciplined.
2. Never Say, “Wait”
When God speaks to us, we must obey it immediately. When we ask God to wait, he doesn’t. He keeps moving. You will miss God’s will when you ask him to wait. In Luke 9:59-62 it states:
To another [Jesus] said, ‘Follow me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ Yet another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’”
To many of us, these responses to Jesus’s statements seem reasonable. It seems appropriate that Jesus should have let this man bury his father and he should have let this other man say goodbye to his family. But that’s because we are viewing Jesus’ statement as a human request. But Jesus is God too in addition to being man. God himself was telling these people what to do. No one has the right to alter God’s timing.
Jesus didn’t force these people to follow him. It was their choice. But he also didn’t wait for them. Jesus kept moving. Only those who didn’t make him wait are those who became his disciples. As Matthew 4:20 states, “Immediately they left their nets and followed him.”
If you have breath in your longs, you still have time to say yes to Jesus. But throughout your life there are also open doors that will not stay open forever. When God is telling you to walk through one of them, never tell him to wait. You will miss God’s will if you do.
3. Never Say, “You Were Wrong”
It’s okay to not understand. It’s okay to feel hurt by the painful circumstances of life. It’s okay to ask for more faith. Even though Jesus knew he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, he still wept with those who wept (John 11:35). To be human is to feel sadness when sad things happen, to feel confused when confusing things happen, and to feel angry when unjust things occur.
But no matter what happens, never tell God he was wrong. This world is wrong. Others can be wrong. We can be wrong. But God is never wrong. Even when we don’t understand, we have to trust that God has a plan in all of this. As Isaiah 55:8-9 states, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
God’s way isn’t always the easiest way. His way is not always the safest way. And his way is not always the simplest way to understand. But as Psalm 18:30 states, “This God—his way is perfect . . .”
Ask God for what you need. Ask him for help where you need help. But never blame God. Never accuse him of being wrong. God is never the problem. He is always the solution.