Promise Keepers

I’ll never forget the day we signed our mortgage loan to build our home. Some have had numerous homes but we have only built one together. It was one of the scariest moments of my life to be talking about numbers and percentages and more money than I would make in many, many years. At a few points I almost passed out from the idea of committing our family to 30 years of that payment and choosing to stay with that home until we were old together.

The truth, however, is that even though I love our home and have no desire to leave it for another we are not committed to that home for life. True, it would be a hard thing to leave it and sell it to another family (especially knowing that it was built on family farmland); but if the time or situation arose that meant we could no longer live there then life would go on. It was a large commitment to make, but it is one that could be gotten out of (as people do daily).

Now rewind the clock a little over ten years with me. I was kneeling on the steps of the stage in the Church building before my wedding was about to take place. It was there that I asked God to be with me and bless our union as it was almost time for the ceremony. Emotionally, I was excited but not scared. I had total faith in the woman I was to wed and the God who brought us together.

Unlike our mortgage loan, however, this was a deal that I knew there was no going back from. I have never wanted to take it back (before or since) yet the promise was far deeper than simply signing for a home loan. The difference lay in a word we seldom use in Western culture; my mortgage is a commitment but my marriage is a covenant. There is a world of disparity between the two.

A commitment can be gotten out of or eventually fulfilled. Cars can be sold or loans paid off. If we stay true to our payments our home loan will be paid off in the next 12 years. This is not the same as my marriage vows. They were just that, vows to be kept until one of us dies. This is a covenant that lasts a lifetime.

In our culture we run from true commitment; we want loans that can be paid off or homes that can be sold if we get tired of it. Jobs are similarly traded and moved to climb the social ladder. Sadly, we treat relationships the same way; we quit our families and divorce our partners when we no longer feel like loving them. This is radically opposed to the model that is shown to us in the Bible. The Bible tells us that covenants last until they are fulfilled and not a moment earlier.

Let me give you some background. In the Bible God makes two types of covenants with his people: conditional and unconditional. Conditional covenants were made with the understanding that if the person(s) failed to keep their end of the bargain then God would not keep his (i.e. – the promise made to David that someone would always stay on the throne in Israel from his family). Unconditional covenants exist outside of our actions (i.e. – God’s promise to never destroy the Earth by flood again).

In the Bible we learn that God has made 6 major covenants with humanity: the Adamic, the Noemic, the Abrahamic, the Mosaic, the Davidic, and the New Covenant (aka the Jeremiah Covenant).  Each of these is unconditional and nothing we do can take them away; God honors them because he himself is honorable. Consider what God says to Jeremiah concerning what we call the New Covenant which was instituted by Jesus:

[31] “The day is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. [32] This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the Lord.

[33] “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel after those days,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. [34] And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already,” says the Lord. “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34 NLT)

 

What we learn about God here is that his promises are not dictated by human action. God, in his awesome mercy, has given us the opportunity to know him and have a right relationship with him again. Jesus created the way for this opportunity through his sacrifice on the cross on our behalf. No matter what action we take as to whether we accept his offer or not, his promise still stands.

This is the way it should be in the promises we make; we should honor our words regardless of what our culture says. This means that when we make our marriage covenants we should uphold them even if culture accepts divorce and ‘shacking up’. This means we keep our promises even when others don’t care about things like honor and integrity. Jesus said we should not swear on anything but simply let our ‘yes’ be yes and our ‘no’ be no. This brings us to our BIG TRUTH for this week:

Christians Keep Their Promises to God and People

What would our Nation look like if those who claimed to follow Christ actually kept their promises? How would people think about God if his followers were true to their word, honored their commitments, stayed true in their marriages, and lived life by the values contained in his Word? How would our ability to share the Gospel change if Christians were people of integrity?

Barna’s research shows that just 14% of those who claim to follow Christ actually live like he taught us to (see https://www.barna.org/culture-articles/611-new-barna-study-explores-trends-among-american-donors). This is a sad, sad state of affairs. It is no small wonder that few people are willing to truly listen to the Gospel and consider the claims of Christ. We must begin to be true followers and not just those who soak up the benefits God gives. We must not just be hearers of the Word but doers as well. It is my prayer that we would begin to live as Christ taught so that we can stand before him unashamed and live a life that glorifies God. I’ll close with this command from our Lord:

 [37] Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one. (Matthew 5:37 NLT)

 

BIG TRUTH: Christians Keep Their Promises to God and People

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