Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.
It is so easy to make promises but often very difficult in keeping them or following through on them. Only God can make promises that never fail, and every single promise made by God is yes and amen (2 Cor. 1:20). Since God has given us these precious promises, should we not make every effort to live a holy life of obedience (2 Cor. 7:1)? What promise this week or last week did you make that you still haven’t followed through on? How can you intentionally set out to complete that promise by the end of the week? Shouldn’t our yes mean yes and our no mean no (Matt. 5:37)? I plead guilty of sometimes telling people that I will pray for them and then forget, but that’s no excuse. My word is my promise, and I’ve broken it many times. That’s why if I say I will pray for someone, my custom is to do it right there, on the spot! For me, it is sin if I say I’ll pray for someone and fail to do it (1 Sam. 12:23).
Long before we even think of making a promise, a vow, or an oath, shouldn’t we stop and think about it first? James, the half-brother of Jesus, essentially said the same thing as Jesus, that we should say yes or no and not add anything else to it; otherwise, we might face the consequences when we don’t follow through (James 5:12). I would rather qualify my statement and say “I will try my best to” or “if I can, I will” and then make every effort to do what I said I would try to do. It is better to say you will try your best to do something and that if it is at all possible you will do it than to make a promise that circumstances might dictate the impossibility of keeping.
Painful Promises Kept
Some have kept their promises or vows and lived to regret making them, as in the case of the Jephtah’s promise that if Israel was successful in battle, whatever walked through his front door would be sacrificed to God (Judges 11:11, 29-33). The ends do not justify the means. Jephtah’s rash vow was foolish. What did he think would come out of his house anyway? A lamb? Did he even think it through? Apparently not because his daughter was the first one who came out, and although the Bible never clearly says that he sacrificed her life, she apparently paid some sort of price. That example should discourage us from making promises that we might not be able to keep because we don’t even know what tomorrow may bring (James 4:14). We can’t brag about or promise with certainty what will happen later in the week because we don’t know for sure (Prov. 27:1).
A Closing Prayer
Righteous God in heaven, please forgive me for the many broken promises to my family, friends, and co-workers that I have made, including failing to pray for them when they asked me to. Give me the wisdom to follow through right away on my promises and the wisdom to know when not to make them, and in Jesus’ name I pray.
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