Friday, July 13, 2012

Promises, Promises


A person's word says much about his or her character.  We swear on things and we make promises all to assure someone that our word is true.  There is one problem with that.
Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.' But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No.' For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.   Matthew 5:33-37 NKJV
Why is there a problem with making promises or swearing on things? It seems harmless enough.  The problem is that saying it implies that you need to say it.  If someone is trusted in their word, they would not have to say "I promise."  If someone was known to tell the truth, that person would have feel the need to swear on anything nor would others care to require it.  The other problem is that if you have no issue with telling a lie, then why would promising or swearing change that fact?  Think about it, if I have no problem looking at you in the eyes and telling a bold-faced lie, why would saying "I promise" or "I swear" mean anything to me?  If honesty is not important to me, then that dishonestly has to be applied to any qualifiers I add to what I am saying.  What I mean is that if I am lying about whatever it is I am saying, I will have no problem lying about promising that it is true.  

It really makes us like children.  Children are big on promises and swearing even when they have no intention on following through with what they are promising or swearing.  It is merely a means to get something that they want.  They want a new toy, they "promise" they will clean their room or they "swear" they will behave.  How often do they not live up to their promises?  For most children, I would say most of the time.  Children also invoke promises when they are lying to make that lie seem more true.  Sometimes they use it when finally telling the truth to discern it from the lies previously spoken.  In other words, they are a useless sentiment.  They become no more useful in adulthood and we make ourselves more like children when we feel we need to make promises. 

What we should do is just as Jesus says.  We merely need to be true to our word.  Only speak the truth and people will not think you are lying.  Do what you say you are going to do and you will have no need to promise.  If your word can be trusted you will never have a need to promise or swear.  In fact, it would be an insult to even ask such a thing.  Sometimes this means sacrifice.  Sometimes this means admitting something we do not want to admit, speaking a truth that may be hurtful to another person, or (dare I say it) admitting when we are wrong.  Sometimes it means missing out on something we think is better because we already committed ourselves to something else.  Sometimes it means getting up earlier or working harder to make it somewhere we said we would be at the time we said we would be there.  Our word is a reflection of our character and how important our word is to us reflects how important our character is to us and other people will see that.  If we admit the times we are wrong, people will believe us when we insist we are right.  When we speak painful truths in love and honesty, people will come to us for honest and productive advice.  When we keep our commitments to be somewhere and work to be there on time, people will be more inclined to invite us to more places.  Trust me, when people do not feel they have to plan around your presumed lateness or have contingencies for frequent cancellations, they are much more inclined to invite you! 

In the end, our word, and whether or not people trust our word, is of the utmost important.  We are charged with sharing the gospel.  We are charged with sharing not just truth, the but the ultimate Truth of God's love for mankind as expressed through the offer of everlasting life through the sacrifice of His son.  Think about it, if people can not trust you to tell the truth about the size of the fish you caught or if people can not trust you to show up for dinner on time, how can they trust you about Jesus?  I can assure you, they will not. 
Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true [riches]?  Luke 16:11 NKJV

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