Promises. As kids, we are taught that promises are to be taken seriously, and so we grow up trying our hardest to keep them. Maybe it’s because we remember a promise being made to us by a parent or friend that ended up being broken, or maybe we try hard to keep them to avoid causing others disappointment. Maybe it just goes back to “Let your ‘Yes’ be yes, and your ‘No’ be no.” (Matt. 5:37)
I think sometimes that we only say “I promise” to the easy stuff. “I promise, I’ll take out the trash before I leave.” “Tomorrow we’ll go the park, I promise!” You know, the incidentals. If the promise isn’t kept, it’s not a big deal. Maybe that is where our problem started, because it seems today that promises don’t mean much at all.
Maybe the best example is that of the politicians. They make all sorts of promises to get elected, and a majority never come to fruition. Part of that may be it is not in their sole power to deliver on them, to which I say, “Don’t make a promise you can’t keep.” To others, I would say, “Don’t make promises you never intend on keeping.” Either way, it really is setting a bad example.
Maybe more disheartening the example that 50+% of married adults (even Christian adults) make: “Til death do us part.”
I know, I know, crap happens, people “fall” in and out of love. People change. People fight. People cheat. The fact remains, a promise was made. It’s one of the most important promises we can make, yet it is taken so lightly by so many. If you think I am being harsh, I am, but please keep reading.
I ask a question. Would you keep a promise, if it meant someone else being uncomfortable?
Like, “I promise not to smoke any more.” The chances are, if you make this promise, you will be grumpy for awhile, I know, I have been around plenty of people trying to quit. But I have patience and tolerate them, because in the end, them keeping their promise is better for their health. If fact, in their hardship, I even encourage them to keep this promise.
Now, would you keep your promise if it meant hurting someone’s feelings?
Scenario. “I will help you move next weekend.” Here, a promise is made to help someone, but on that day, your kids are not feeling well and your spouse asks you to stay home and help out. What do you do? Well, you feel sympathetic toward your spouse and children, and you know it may hurt their feelings, and maybe they feel they are not number one for a few hours, but you go and help your friend move. Why? Because your word is your word, and it sucks sometimes, but you do it.
Moving along, do you keep the promise when it causes harm to yourself?
“I promise to protect my family.” A robber breaks in, and without hesitation, a man or woman will do whatever necessary to protect their loved ones, even if it costs them their life. Makes sense right? One of the most costly to follow through on, but we do the right thing, because it’s the right thing to do.
Now the difficult one: Would you keep a promise if it cost the life of your child? I know someone who did.
A man was promised that a nation would be made from his offspring, but to follow through on it, his own child had to die. The promise was made by God, to Abram, at the cost of Jesus’ life. Not only did God follow through on the promise, He made the promise knowing what it would cost.
Now I challenge myself and you to keep our word. Make your yes, yes, and your no, no; especially when it comes to your marriage. We make mistakes, I know, I have made plenty, but we can’t give up. I doubt very highly that keeping the promise “Til death do us part” will cost us the physical lives of our children, but it is killing generations in many different ways (broken homes, broken relationships, bitterness, even hatred being passed around like Halloween candy all in the name of “What’s best for the kids” translates to “what is best for me.”).
It’s not easy sometimes, but it’s worth it. It’s work a lot of the time, but it’s worth it.