I remember a conversation I had with a friend when my children were young in which she told me her mother often broke her promises. I could see it left a mark on my friend and it changed the way I spoke to my own children.
I learned not to say things as if they were a done deal because I realized the cumulative effect it could have on my children if things didn’t turn out the way I had expected, implied or even promised. This annoyed my kids too. If I made a suggestion of what we might do for the day, their typical response was, “Do you promise?” They wanted some assurances.
We are no different. We want to be able to trust others to do what they say.
I’ll call you next week. I’ll pray for you about that. Let me know if there is anything I can do. Have you ever been disappointed when someone else failed to keep their word to you? Most of us have.
Here is a clip from a sermon about Matthew 14:
But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company and pleased Herod, so that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.” And the king was sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given. Matthew 14:6-9
“Of course I love you. The Cheque’s in the Post. This won’t hurt a bit. It wasn’t my fault; and now:
‘Whatever you ask of me I will give you, even half my kingdom’”
Words said in haste, and repented at leisure; rash promises made in order to look good at the time, platitudes which although they seem to promise so much, almost always end up empty. These are the words which become a source of pain, discomfort, distress and in the case of John the Baptist, cause the almost senseless death of one who was even by Herod’s admission, a holy man.”
King Herod promised his wife’s daughter anything she wished in return for her dancing at his birthday party. A foolish, ill-advised promise. It was not an uncommon promise among kings, we see it several places through Scripture. I’m not sure it was intended to be taken literally or more an expression of appreciation or love.
King Herod made his stepdaughter a promise and her request came at a high price. The king regretted his promise, but kept it anyway and as a result John the Baptist’s life ended.
What things do we say that we don’t follow through with? Most assuredly not something that resulted in an execution but perhaps foolish promises, or off-handed comments we simply don’t keep.
The best way not to be caught in our own words is to be mindful of what we say in the first place. How about we say less, and keep our word more?
This just happened to me a few weeks ago. A friend from church had indicated she wanted my help with something. I said I’d love to help her out, and would touch base in a few days. Life got busy and frankly I forgot for over a week. When I remembered some time had passed and I never got around to it. It’s not like I said, “I promise I will touch base in a few days” but as a woman of my word, that is what I meant…at the time. My friend is still waiting.
How do we, as God’s daughters, stand apart from other women of the world? Here is one way… be women who keep our word. We want to be reliable and trustworthy. We want others to know they can believe what we say, that we keep our promises, implied or otherwise, no matter what.
Say less, keep our word more.
But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation. James 5:12
Written by Diane Hunt: Diane Hunt serves on the board of America’s Keswick and is the Executive Director & CEO of Changed Choices, a Christian non-profit in North Carolina. She is also a biblical counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.