By Annie Yorty
Do you know any parents who habitually fail to keep their word to their children?
They promise a treat or reward and forget to give it. Or they threaten a consequence for poor behavior and never follow through.
Sometimes moms and dads abandon their marriage vows and break the promise of an intact family.
Even worse, some parents neglect their inherent responsibility to nurture and love a child.
I’ve observed children who cannot rely on their parents’ promises. They all exhibit signs of insecurity.
Sometimes the insecurity turns inward, creating timidity and withdrawal. Expressed outwardly, insecurity results in a lack of self-control.
On the other hand, a promise-keeping parent is a rock, an immovable foundation that anchors a child’s heart in security.A promise-keeping parent is a rock, an immovable foundation that anchors a child’s heart in security.
Commitment Reflects Trustworthiness
“God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes His mind. Does He speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill?” – Numbers 23:19 HCSB
All relationships flourish on trustworthiness.
Without it, friendships explode or just peter out with the inconsistency of broken promises. Employees lose jobs. Business deals fall apart.
Aren’t you glad our Father in heaven keeps every promise?
Promise-keeping reminds me of the word “amen.”
In 2 Corinthians 1:20 HCSB, we read, “For every one of God’s promises is ‘Yes’ in Him [Jesus]. Therefore, the ‘Amen’ is also spoken through Him by us for God’s glory.”
The Holman Bible Dictionary says “amen” is “is a transliteration of a Hebrew word signifying something as certain, sure and valid, truthful and faithful. It is sometimes translated, ‘so be it.’”
It explains that Jesus often used amen, translated as verily or truly, at the beginning of a statement to reinforce the certainty and truth of His words.Jesus often used the word “amen” to reinforce the certainty and truth of His words.
Keeping Commitments Jesus’ Way
“Again, you have heard that it was said to our ancestors, you must not break your oath, but you must keep your oaths to the Lord. But I tell you, don’t take an oath at all: either by heaven, because it is God’s throne; or by the earth, because it is His footstool; or by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. Neither should you swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white or black. But let your word ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.’ Anything more than this is from the evil one.”
-Matthew 5:33-37 HCSB
Jesus spoke about vows—commitments or solemn promises—in His Sermon on the Mount, which we’ll look at more closely below.
These words challenge me because I can so flippantly promise without giving much thought to the cost of commitment.
Yes, commitments have costs. Fulfilling a vow may involve a sacrifice of time, possessions, finances, or emotions.
Did you know that Jesus is named “the Amen” (Rv 3:14)?
That’s because Jesus is the Rock upon which all the promises of God are fulfilled.
Every word of God is satisfied through Jesus Christ.
We experience perfect security in Christ.
If we have security in Christ, shouldn’t we also keep our word?
I sometimes find my commitment to promises waning due to distractions or adversity. I confess I don’t always follow through to completion.Every word of God is satisfied through Jesus Christ.
3 Principles for Moving from Commitment to Completion
Through Jesus’ words in Matthew, we discover the following principles for moving from commitment to completion of promises.
1 – Keeping your word is a matter of obedience to God.
“Again, you have heard that it was said to our ancestors, You must not break your oath, but you must keep your oaths to the Lord.” – Matthew 5:33 HCSB
In Matthew 5:33, Jesus referred to Moses’ pronouncement of God’s Law given to the Israelites.
If God wrote this command into the Law, He meant for it to be followed. Our vows, even when made to fellow humans, are always made to God as well (Nm 30:2).
If we make promises we do not keep, we sin first and foremost against God.
Sometimes, though, our promises are not even known to another person. Can we abandon them?
I remember a time when God stirred my heart to give to an organization, and I agreed with Him.
Then an unexpected expense came along, and I delayed giving until I had more money.
I put off what I had promised to God and justified it by saying no one expected the gift. God convicted me, and I finally sent the donation, but my disobedience robbed me of joy.If we make promises we do not keep, we sin first and foremost against God.
2 -Place no conditions on keeping your word.
“But I tell you, don’t take an oath at all: either by heaven, because it is God’s throne; or by the earth, because it is His footstool; or by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. Neither should you swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white or black.” – Matthew 5:34-36 HCSB
After citing Old Testament Law, Jesus warned about making conditional promises.
It was common in those days to equivocate promises with conditions such as God’s goodness, the continuity of the earth or heaven, or even hairs on your head.
People would make if-then statements about keeping their word. Often, the phrasing allowed the person making the oath to wiggle out of keeping it over some slight change of circumstance.
We still use the same tactics today, thousands of years later.
But this runs contrary to God’s intent with His Law. Our word should be the truth.
Have you ever made a bargain with your word?
Consider this example: Your child begged for a puppy you didn’t want to give, so you promised to buy one based on an impossibly high behavior condition.
Theoretically, you would keep your word to get a dog. But in your heart, you knew your prerequisite could never be achieved.
In this example, a false conditional attached to the promise manipulates an outcome directly contrary to the promise.Jesus said a simple “yes” or “no” will suffice.
3 – Just keep your word.
“But let your word ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.’ Anything more than this is from the evil one.” – Matthew 5:37 HCSB
Jesus said a simple “yes” or “no” will suffice. You need not attach any special words such as oath, vow, or promise to your affirmative or negative.
Though simple, this concept can be difficult to achieve. But as with everything else in Christian life, God gives His Holy Spirit to help us imitate Jesus.
3 Prayers for Moving from Commitment to Completion
“And if you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” – Matthew 21:22 HCSB
Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can use Scripture to ask God to help us speak truth with our promises.
- Dear Lord Jesus, please help me to love You so much that I want to discover and remember Your words. Help me to desire to obey Your commands more than my own way (Dt 11:1).
- Dear Father God, You are ever-present as much on earth as You are in heaven. You hear every word I speak. Please help me to choose my words thoughtfully rather than impulsively, counting the cost and commitment of each spoken word (Eccl 5:2).
- Dear Holy Spirit, You live inside me, knowing me better than I know myself. Search my heart to reveal the truth about why I procrastinate in keeping my word. Expose any worries or fears that lead me to make false promises. Make me aware of how I have hurt others with unkept commitments so I may confess, receive forgiveness, and make changes (Ps 139:23-24).
Friends, the only way we can hope to be faithful to our word is to fully rely on Jesus, the Amen.
I encourage you to wrap every promise in prayer to the Amen so you can move from commitment to completion for God’s glory.
– Annie Yorty
Annie Yorty, author and speaker, writes her blog, Perceive God, to teach and encourage others to discover their true needs and find sources of support and hope. She applies this calling to many interests including disability advocacy, global missions, homeschooling, Bible teaching, and mentoring. Her book, Journey from Ignorance to Bliss: God’s Heart Revealed Through Down Syndrome, will be released in spring, 2023. Connect with her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.