Trustworthiness and Commitment

In our world today the concept of commitment is not a popular one.  “In our permissive, irresponsible, escapism mentality, commitment is almost a dirty word  Those who would rather rationalize and run than stick with it and watch God pull off a miracle or two (not to mention shaping us in the process) resist this whole concept.” – Chuck Swindoll.

 We are recognized as trustworthy when we are dependable and keep commitments.  We fail when commitments are not realized because of inability, lack of planning, or will.

Commitment is something we expect of others, but is it something we are willing to give?   What does the Bible say about keeping your word, being depend­able, keeping promises and commitments?

God is a covenant keeping God.  He never goes back on His word.  If He has spoken it, He will do it (Heb. 6:17-18; Isa. 46:11).   God made a covenant with Abraham and David which had promises for Israel and the whole world (Genesis 12:1-3; 2 Samuel 7:14 with Isaiah 2:1-4).  What if God said, “I’m really tired of putting up with these people?  After all, they broke their commitments to me.  Why don’t I break mine to them?”  Sup­pose God relied only on His feelings.

David wrote, “But he honors those who fear the Lord; He who swears to his own hurt and does not change” (Psalm 15:4). “Swears to his own hurt” results from learning to be true to one’s word even when it is difficult to carry out what was promised.  A vow is a vow.  A man must honor that vow even though it costs him.  But it will cost  more later on if he doesn’t.  When younger I knew a college student that was not treated very well by someone who misunderstood his intentions. That person, who was an authority over him, sent him packing.  The student owed some money to that individual and his organization.  The student, though he had no positive motivation, paid every last cent because he considered it the right thing to do.  In his doing so I gained increased respect for him.

 Why do people NOT keep commitments?  Here are some possible reasons:

 1.  Public opinion and peer pressure – People around us exclaim, “Why sweat it?”  They don’t care to keep a promise as long as it serves their own interests.  Others’ lack of commitment influences us to become less serious about keeping our own.  We lack the example of people to admire in public life who keep their word.   Some of the most egregious examples are those who are not hypocrites, but those who have deception built into their political philosophy.  The end justifies the means.  Truth is that which advances my agenda.  Promises are made to get elected or advanced.  There is no obligation beyond that.

 2.  Accommodating theology – Sometimes people say, “God is leading me to violate this contract, dissolve this marriage, or break this promise.”  This has the illusion of making and then breaking your word look respectable.  Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 states, “When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; For He has no pleasure in fools.  Pay what you have vowed—Better not to vow than to vow and not pay.”  A couple in their marriage vows usually say, “for better or for worse…till death do us part.”  Most have forgotten marriage a divine contract (Matt. 19:6).  The promise to be faithful is made “before these witnesses and before God.”  It is a three way agreement.  God is committed to the success of that marriage brought about by the commitment of the couple.  And the witnesses are there to provide support in the carrying out of the marriage vows as well.  While the Bible does make accommodation for divorce, it is not commended nor commanded (e.g. Matthew 5:32).

Sincerity in making a promise is always in vogue not only in one’s relationship to God, but also with other human beings:  Jesus admonished, “Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ [and mean it] or ‘No, I won’t.’ [and mean it]  Anything beyond this is from the evil one” (Matthew 5:37 [NLT]).

 3.  Delayed consequences – People seem to get away with breaking their word without God interfering in judgment.  But Ecclesiastes 8:11 says, “Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil”. Intentional disregard in keeping promises works for a while, but then offenders get found out and no one trusts them anymore. Eventually, they lack credibility.  Their ability to be regarded as a role model is decimated and the stigma is difficult if not impossible to remove.

 4.  Christian approval – The Corinthian Christians boasted of their tolerance of a man who had sexual relations with his father’s wife (stepmother?). See 1 Corinthians 5:1-2.  This gave aid and comfort to those who wished to persist in a sinful life-style.  Here, respecting the commitment of others in marriage was disregarded.  Promises and vows in things pertaining to marriage are to be taken seriously by us because they are taken seriously by God.

 God directs the Christian to be different.  He is not to be conformed to this world, but be transformed (Romans 12:1-2).  The world may not esteem commitments the same way God does.  However, if we can cut through the rationalizations and trust the sovereign God of the universe in the midst of keeping commitments to secure His approval, we will be better off in the long run.

 

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Published in: on February 18, 2014 at 4:03 pm  Leave a Comment