I promise, I guess
Matthew 5:37 Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything more than this comes from evil.
James 5:12 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.
In our world today, all manner of contracts and agreements are extant. Most contracts must contain at least two elements to be legally valid. All the parties involved in the contract must agree. Something of value is exchanged: a car, a house, services, or goods. Such contracts are intended to protect both parties.
In better more optimistic times, contracts could be established by a handshake or even a simple nod of the head. All was based on trust.
When the Constitution of the United States was written, very high standards of ethics were the foundation upon which it stood. Honor and duty are considered more important than an individual’s personal survival or selfish interest. The document concludes with these noble words: “We pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
But our somewhat dystopian 21st century, in many situations, trust is not enough. Frequently, trustworthiness is offset by forgetfulness, selfishness, greediness, or outright dishonesty. Loopholes are sought and often exploited.
But what of children of the King? How are they to make commitments? The standard is simple, but quite high and lofty. We do what we say! Keeping our promises is not always pleasant, but it is always right. We are to be consistent and follow through even if pay a price to do so.
Because of human frailty and forgetfulness, putting them into writing makes common sense.
It should not be of any surprise to discover that, the Father entered into many contracts.
REFLECT & PRAY
When we search our own hearts, the sad fact is we often find selfish ambition impacting our trustworthiness and follow-through.
Father, I know You always keep Your promises. Encourage me to be just like You.
In the Old Testament, there were many ways for people to make agreements or covenants. Three prominent ways involve sandals, salt, and death. When two men made a pact, they would exchange sandals. This is quite similar to simply shaking hands in modern times. If they wanted to avoid the agreement, all they had to do was take back their own sandals.
The salt covenant was substantially more binding. In Old Testament times, people would often carry little bags of salt to season their food. When two people entered into an agreement and made a salt covenant, each individual will take a pinch of salt out of their bag and put it into the other’s bag. In the same way that it would be very hard to extract your salt from the other person’s salt, so the contract was far more unbreakable.
But the most permanent and lasting of all covenants involved blood and death. It may seem grotesque to us today but not then. When two individuals entered into a covenant that was never intended to be broken, they would kill an animal and cut the carcass in half. They would then separate the two halves. And the two individuals would walk between them. This was a vivid picture of the fact that the covenant could never be broken because animals would never live again.
The Father pledged His sacred honor to the nation of Israel (Gen 15:8-18).
8 But Abram replied, “O Sovereign LORD, how can I be sure that I will actually possess it?”
9 The LORD told him, “Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”
10 So Abram presented all these to him and killed them. Then he cut each animal down the middle and laid the halves side by side; he did not, however, cut the birds in half.
17 After the sun went down and darkness fell, Abram saw a smoking firepot and a flaming torch pass between the halves of the carcasses.
18 So the LORD made a covenant with Abram that day and said, “I have given this land to your descendants, all the way from the border of Egypt to the great Euphrates River.”
The Father made a covenant with Abraham and the Nation of Israel. It is briefly summarized in Genesis 12
2 I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you well-known, and you will be a blessing to others.
3 I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.
The Father has unconditionally pledged His fidelity to the nation of Israel. No one is more trustworthy than Him. He has irrevocably and unconditionally committed Himself to the fulfillment of His promise. Indeed, His yes is yes! Israel’s future is dependent upon the Father’s character and trustworthiness.
28 They are still the people he loves because he chose their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
29 For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn.
The same is true for each child of the King. What the Father has promised and committed to each of us, will certainly come to pass. Our eternal security is based upon His character and commitment.
Are the children of the King dependable? Do people trust them to do what they say? Are we dependable like their Father? Is our “yes” invariably yes and our “no” dependably no?