If you haven’t seen Mandy Baker’s thoughts on the Duggar situation that was posted on Entrusted By God earlier this week, please take a little time to go and read that now. She talks about the idea of divorce in a very biblical way which coincided nicely with our study of Matthew 5 here with the Weekly Word. Because Mandy so beautifully dealt with the idea contained in verses 31-32 already, I’m going to start our examination today in verse 33.
The well-known kid’s saying of “Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye” has been recited thousands of times. As a child, what greater phrase was there to plead to everyone that you would keep your end of the bargain. When you cross your heart, you are proclaiming to the world that if I do not uphold your end of the bargain, you are to stick a pointy syringe in my eye. But what I am really proclaiming to my friends is, “I can deliver.” Of course, no child actually made that promise and literally meant the part about the needle because we are human and often have a tough time keeping our promises and I do not know of one person who finds enjoyment in a needle being poked into their eye. The Bible is packed with promises made. In fact, the grand story line of the Bible revolves around one specific type of promise: the covenant. Promises and oaths can be powerful things, but they should only be made in certain circumstances. I would like to suggest that there are 3 different types of promises, and then show what their results normally are:
1.Bad Promises get you in Trouble.
Jesus quotes Leviticus 19:12 while preaching his Sermon on the Mount, “You shall not swear falsely…” Here, Jesus makes sure to tell everyone that if they make a promise, they should not make it frivolously. To make a promise and not keep it is a grave mistake by anyone. Broken promises often result in a bad reputation of the one who made the promise. That is usually not the only result either. The person(s) who were expecting you to fulfill your promise are often hurt and deeply affected. Bad promises are promises you can’t keep. Don’t make them because they’ll get you in trouble.
2.Good Promises make you Trustworthy.
I left out the last part of the first verse because it belongs under this heading. Jesus finishes Leviticus 19:2 by saying, “…but you shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.” Keep your promises. If you make one, keep it. But Jesus doesn’t stop there with his teaching. As we see all too often in his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus expands the Old Testament moral law to include matters of the heart. To make a promise means that you can and will deliver on that promise. But where the heart creeps in is when we make a promise thinking that we are in control, when in all actuality, God is the only one who is in control. Frequently, when we make a promise, we proclaim ourselves to be sovereign. But since we are not sovereign, we cannot control what will actually happen in the future which means that we cannot 100% guarantee that we will deliver on our promises. Rather, Jesus tells his followers to simply say “‘Yes’ or ‘No’.” He wants His followers to have a high standard of integrity. R.C. Sproul comments on this idea, “In one sense, Jesus is saying that because of our integrity it shouldn’t be necessary for Christians to make vows. Christian people should never have to swear and oath…, but we should be known as people whose word can be relied upon.” Christians, be full of integrity and be trustworthy because our God is trustworthy.
3.God’s Promises get us Excited.
Promises have involved with them expectations. The recipient of the promise expects to receive that which is promised. God has made His people promises. We are patiently waiting with confident expectation for Him to fulfill His promise of coming back to make all things new. Peter records this in 2 Peter 3:13, “But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” This promise that God is coming back made Peter excited and patient. We should have the same reaction! When we read about our future, we should not be fearful, but excited! Our Messiah has lived the life we could never live, died the death we deserved to die, and has risen victoriously over our death and sin so that we can do the same through his Spirit! He promises “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20) At the end of the age when Jesus comes back, we have this promise and confident expectation from Revelation 21:3-4,
“‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’
And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’”
Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Let your integrity speak for itself. The promises you have made, be imitators of Christ and keep them. Last, be satisfied and overwhelmed in God’s promises today.
This week’s devotional was written by Kasey Clark. He is the High School Bible Teacher at Traders Point Christian Academy. Kasey is also an aspiring pastor and currently serves as a church planting intern at New Circle Church in Downtown Indianapolis. He loves digging deeper into theology and helping his church family do the same.