“I also shook out the fold of my garment and said, “So may God shake out every man from his house and from his labor who does not keep this promise. So may he be shaken out and emptied.” And all the assembly said “Amen” and praised the LORD. And the people did as they had promised.” (Nehemiah 5:13, ESV)
We live in a world filled with promises. But promises often don’t mean much. A couple stands before an altar and says they will be faithful to each other as long as they both shall live. But when the worse comes, they go back on their promise. A politician promises to lower taxes to get elected. But after he is elected, the realities of economics force him to retract his promise.
This afternoon, as I write this, I wait for a phone call that was promised three hours ago. As a church leader, I have volunteers who promise to serve at a certain time and then failed to show up. There have been more than a few times I have been let down by the promises of others. I am sure you have too. Often it is in small ways, but sometimes it is in big ways. And it hurts!
How about you? Have you ever made a promise you did not keep? If you are like most people, you have. What are some ways we could do better at keeping our promises?
Think Before You Speak
We often make rash decisions. We don’t think through the implications of the promises we make to our spouse, children, and co-workers. You promise your kid that you will be there to watch their soccer game, but you fail to account for the traffic you will encounter on your way home from work. You made a promise you could not keep. Don’t promise what you can’t do.
Over Involved, Under Committed
The busyness of the American lifestyle is a hinderance to our promises. We try to experience it all and do it all. It leads us to be involved in a thousand different things, but rarely committed to excellence in any one thing. Out of our desire to do it all, we simply bite off more than we can chew. It all leads to broken promises.
Instead of being over-involved and under-committed, try under-promising but over-delivering. If you make a promise, don’t promise the world. Promise less than you are capable. In a world of over-promising and under-delivering, you will stand out. People will recognize that you are a person of your word. Commit small, but deliver big time.
Your Integrity Matters
In the end, it is a matter of integrity. If you fail to keep your word, people will see you as someone who is unreliable. Worse yet, as a believer, your faithfulness is a reflection of God’s faithfulness. God is always true to his promises. He never lets us down. How does your faithfulness (or lack of) reflect upon your faithful God?
- When was the last time you were let down by another’s promise? How did it make you feel?
- How can you better be a person of your word?
Lord, I thank you that every promise you make is 100% true. You have never let me down, and you never fail. You are always faithful. But we live in a broken world with broken promises. Empower me by your Holy Spirit to be forgiving toward those who have broken their promises to me. Also, give me a conviction to say what I mean and mean what I say that I might live with integrity as a person of my word. Help me be faithful to reflect your faithfulness. Amen.