Hi friends! Have you ever experienced that awkward moment when someone is so visibly upset that they’re yelling right in front of you and it has nothing at all to do with anything you did? Well, let me tell you a story…
“I get so frustrated by your culture! Please don’t tell me ‘Let’s get together sometime,’ if you aren’t going to follow up on it! Just keep your word – act like a Christian!” My Korean professor slammed her books onto her desk. Oh, boy, did I feel uncomfortable. And convicted, even though her morning diatribe wasn’t directed at me or anyone else in our Intercultural Communication class.
Were my professor’s feelings unfounded? Maybe not. Our society has gotten into the habit of saying we’ll do things without any real intention of following through. If it happens, great! If not, no sweat.
Just because something is culturally acceptable doesn’t mean that it’s biblical. It’s our responsibility as believers to test and discern what glorifies God best through reading His Word – the lens of absolute truth through which we view and interpret the goings-on in the world. So, then, what does the Bible say about keeping our word?
- “But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by
the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay;
lest ye fall into condemnation.” James 5:12
- “Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are His delight.” Proverbs 12:22
- “The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall
destroy them.” Proverbs 11:3
The Bible uses some pretty strong language to emphasize the importance of keeping our commitments. It also doesn’t mention keeping our word only when it’s convenient or when we feel like it. But it does promise blessing to those who choose integrity and righteousness. Matthew 5:6 says, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”
Let’s be honest…
When we say we’re going to do something, we are giving our word. The words “I promise” or “I swear” shouldn’t have to be present for a statement to mean anything of significance. In fact, the Bible even encourages us not to use such vernacular (Matthew 5:33-37).
God doesn’t call us to meet the status quo. We are called to stand out, to be sanctified, to be in the world but not of it. Romans 12:2 says, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” If we live like the world does, we are unrecognizable as followers of Christ.
Not only that, but the world is watching us to see if we live according to the standard we claim. Mahatma Gandhi said, “I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” OUCH! The world can see when we are hypocritical and judges us for it. Instead, God desires our conversations to be “honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation” (I Peter 2:12).
I find that we’re more tempted to break commitments if a better or more convenient opportunity comes along. First Corinthians 10:23 says, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” Edification is all about setting ourselves – our needs and desires – aside to build others up.
My Intercultural Communication professor saw a direct link between following through on our words and acting like Christians. So, let’s test our actions to see if they represent Christ well to the glory of God, and make changes if necessary. Our God is full of mercy and grace!
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every
man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers,
they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
I Peter 3:15-16 [emphasis mine]
Family Radio Staff