The Worshipful Man and Keeping Your Word

Posted on February 21, 2011 by

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Keep your word. It’s something that most Christians don’t consider as being important or essential for worship.

So what if we don’t hold ourselves to the commitments that we make to others in our business and personal lives? Is it really that big of a deal if we don’t follow through 100% on a giving commitment we’ve made? After all – situations change. Circumstances change. Nobody should reasonably expect you to keep all of the commitments you make – especially when the cost of keeping those commitments changes after-the-fact. Right?

Wrong. Here’s what God says is one of the characteristics of the Worshipful Man – the man who is fit to stand before God, worship Him, and serve Him:

…[He] who swears to his own hurt and does not change…” (Psa 15:4, ESV)

God takes oaths and vows very seriously, whether they are given to Him or to our fellow man. In fact, Scripture tells us it’s better to not make a commitment at all than to make one and not keep it:

It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.” (Ecc 5:5, ESV)

If you are tempted to think that this principle applies only to times when you explicitly say, “I promise”, or “I vow”, Jesus has some clarifying truth for you:

“”Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” (Mat 5:33-37, ESV)

Jesus is talking to people who put stock in whether an oath is sworn or the sacredness of the thing upon which the oath is sworn. Religious people said that you didn’t really have to keep an oath if it was sworn on something insignificant (such as the hairs of your head), but you were bound to it if you swore on something holy and sacred (heaven, Jerusalem).

A good modern example of this is people who say they will “swear on a stack of Bibles” that what they are saying is true. Jesus says all of these things are out of your control anyway and that swearing by them is foolish and leads to “evil” loopholes that spineless religious people will use to weasel their way out of commitments. He tells us that when we say “yes” or “no”, it’s as good as having sworn an oath, and we need to stick to it.

So keeping your word is more than just keeping the sacred vows you make – it’s making your word your bond.

To bring it home, here are some reasons we should keep our word:

  1. God hates lying. In the list of seven things that are an abomination to God, two of them are lying and liars (Pro 6:16-19).
  2. You are an ambassador of Christ to a broken world. The way you conduct yourself, for good or for ill, reflects on Him. We serve a God who always keeps his promises, and we need reflect that.
  3. If it’s important to keep our word to lost people, it’s even more important to honor our commitments to fellow believers (Gal 6:10).
  4. How well you keep your word is a reflection on you as a person. If you are someone who simply forgets his commitments, it’s a reflection of lazy heart attitudes. If you constantly change your mind about something after you’ve already committed to it, it’s a symptom of indecisiveness. Men who put high value on keeping their word are typically the kind of men that people feel safe entrusting with valuable things.
  5. Not keeping your word shows contempt, or at the very least apathy, for the value of those to whom you have made a commitment.
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Posted in: food for thought