Are we people of our word, and does it matter?

How often have you heard someone say they will be there or I will do something and you expect it to happen. You have remembered, but the one who spoke the word failed to do what they had stated. How do you view that situation, how did it make you feel, what does it cause you to think of that person, and does it effect your relationship with them? Yes there are so many consequences that can occur because you failed to do what you stated. I believe it is a lie not to undertake what we committed to do, and we should be careful to be people of our word.

I went to watch my three year old grandson in his first play. It started by one of the organisers stating we have had to substitute the narrator in the play with an adult as the child who was performing that part has failed to turn up. There could have been a very genuine reason for the failure to be there on the night but the consequence of no communication made it far more difficult for the organisers, and it would have been the courteous and right thing to do to communicate the fact that they were not going to fulfil their commitment for whatever the reason. In this case the parents responsibility.

Oh I forgot, then the answer is to find a method of reminding you what you have agreed to do, or was it a case of just making a comment that you never had any intention at all? Maybe you state what you would like to do but something else takes priority, in other words your words are cheap. Was it a case of unwise statement that was your intention at the time but you changed your mind. Your failure to undertake what you had arranged or stated can have major ramifications on someones life, therefore it is with sensible, careful, thought, and in certain cases prayer we should say anything that is likely to impact someones life.

Keeping WordThere are occasions when we are unable to undertake what was our genuine statement of intention, then in that case go back to the person and apologise for not being able to do as promised before the expected occurrence. Sometimes we do forget what we said we would do, then when we are made aware or remember apologise. There maybe cases you need to put it right with the individual or if given publicly corrected publicly.

For people who lived during the time of the Old Testament, oaths were a major part of culture and life. Oaths took such an important role that we can find many instances in which God swears by an oath of himself! One of these occasions is found in Genesis 22, when God tells Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac as a burnt offering. Faithfully, Abraham obeys God and prepares to sacrifice Isaac. During the final moments of what looked to be Isaac’s life, God steps back into the situation and saves Isaac from being killed. God then rewards Abraham for his complete obedience by giving him an oath.

“The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and not withheld your son, I will surely bless you and your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore.” Genesis 22:15-17

Whenever God gave this oath to Abraham, Abraham didn’t reply by further questioning God in order to provide certain details of the agreement, nor did Abraham make God sign a contract or require a cheap promise; Abraham simply trusted that God would be true, and he was! In fact, God has been and forever will be faithful in his promises. God’s faithfulness sets the example of how we as Christ followers should respond in being true to our word. James 5:12 is an almost exact quotation of what Jesus said about this topic in Matthew 5:33-37. In Matthew 5, Jesus addresses those who are familiar with the Old Testament acceptance of oaths; but Jesus forbids us to swear by oaths at all!

“Again you have heard that it was said long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ But I tell you, do not swear at all: either by heaven…. or by earth… Simply let your ‘Yes’ be yes, and your ‘No’, no; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. “ Matthew 5:33-37

Through Matthew 5, we see that Jesus teaches us to not even go as far as making an oath, but to instead simply be people of our word. He calls us to do the things we’ve promised to do, period.

Imagine what your life would look like if we lived this principle out in every sense of Christ’s teaching. Imagine what our relationships with our spouses and our families would look like if we continually put action to our words of promise. Imagine how our relationships at work would be strengthened if people could place trust into what we have taken responsibility for. I would imagine that we would find much more harmony in life, and our relationships with people and with God would increase in a dramatically positive way.

No matter how difficult the situation or how bad we don’t want to do what we have promised (or do what we promised not to), we are called to be faithful as God was faithful in his oath to Abraham, obedient in every way!

Oh you may say that is a bit heavy it puts pressure on our life, no it is being honest and true to our word, and obedient to the word of God.

Perhaps it requires a life style change, getting some form of diary to remind you, using your mobile to give you a memory jog etc: Ensuring we phrase what we say truthfully rather that make a definitive statement to do something when we know it is only a probability, then state it as a probability. Perhaps we need to be accurate in our intentions by saying “I will try to”, and if it is important get back to the person and update them if you were unable to undertake what you were genuinely intending to try to do.

Let us make an effort to speak the truth and be people of our word!

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4 Responses to Are we people of our word, and does it matter?

  1. Barb says:

    Having read this I thought it was extremely enlightening.
    I appreciate you spending some time and energy to put this short article together.
    I once again find myself personally spending way too much time both reading
    and commenting. But so what, it was still worth it!

    • Chris Saville says:

      Hi Ian, wow! Certainly food for thought, yes, this has hit me! I think I do exagerate , sorry, wrong spelling, I do usually try and pray w hen I have said I would, but since rea ding your word I see how accountable I really am, a promise is a promise..what struck me more than anything though is the huge disappointment that comes across from you…….obviously from your own experiences , which must have caused great disappointment and dislusionment from the “Body of Christ” . So sorry we have failed you and disappointed you so often, but praise God he has turned this disappointment into a blessing; a teaching to all of us to guard our words, thank you Ian, this is the first thing I have read from your web site, I would like to see” a topic…how precious our words are ……Bless U Chris

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