September 20, 2021
Have you ever made a promise or a vow that you have not kept? I am sure it is most likely true of all of us. Jonathan Swift famously said, “Promises and pie-crusts are made to be broken.” They ARE broken, way too easily, most of the time—but we all have an inner awareness that’s not the way it is supposed to be. Another anonymous statement says, “People with good intentions make promises, but people with good character keep them.”
This past week I had the opportunity to lead a couple in renewing their marriage vows. I was thinking about the significance of what they were doing, and thought, “You know—that would be a good and healthy choice for all of us—to review our promises and vows and renew our commitment to keeping them.”
You might be surprised to know that the Bible’s words about promises and their significance are pointed and impossible to misunderstand. Just consider these:
- When you make a vow to God, do not delay fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it. 6 Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. Ecclesiastes 5:4-6 NIV
- A person who promises a gift but doesn’t give it is like clouds and wind that bring no rain. Proverbs 25:14 NLT
- (They) honor the faithful followers of the Lord and keep their promises even when it hurts. Psalm 15:4 NLT
So, God is very interested in promises being kept, so much so that it is better to never make a promise than to quit on it. Ecclesiastes says this is actually sinful. Breaking a promise a sin? New thought, perhaps. It’s foolish not to keep your commitment.
People who don’t follow through on their commitments are like clouds that never produce the benefit of rain. You know what that feels like. It’s dry, and the grass, flowers, and needed crops are actually dying for rain. But though there are lots of clouds, the rain never comes and refreshes the earth. It’s depressing. People who don’t come through on their promises are disappointing and depressing as well.
If you’re a person of integrity, you keep your word. When you say you’ll do something, you do it, even when it hurts. You realize the cost to you of keeping the promise is far less than the cost of a broken promise. For instance, when you break a promise to your spouse or your children, bitterness may seep into the relationship like a poison. Your friends and family will be unable to trust you if you continually break your promises to them.
When we break promises, we generally try to excuse ourselves. We may say circumstances have changed. And maybe they have. But integrity means you keep your promises even if they no longer benefit you, even if they hurt you, or even if they cost more than you anticipated.
You will always gain more than you lose in the long run when you keep your promises. Proverbs 10:9 says that when you keep your promises, you’ll walk securely. In other words, your reliability will lead to stability. When people find they can take you at your word, your dependability will produce tremendous confidence in their lives and in yours as well.
The choices you make about keeping your promises will powerfully impact your relationships with people and with God. It may be tough to keep all of your promises, but when you do, God will honor your commitment, and your relationships will strengthen.
Are there promises or vows that you have made that you are not following through on? There’s no better time than now to revisit them and renew your commitment. Promise keepers are people who add value to life and become the most valued people.