By Chipley McQueen Thornton, First Baptist Church of Springville Pastor
I wake up my three boys at 6 a.m. for school. The only thing that changes their (bad) mood is if The Andy Griffith Show is on while they eat breakfast. This morning Andy taught his son, Opie, how important it is to “keep your promises.”
I thought of Paul’s letter to the Corinth congregation. He had promised to visit them. Due to circumstances beyond his control, he wasn’t able. He feared they might distrust him so he wrote, “And it is God Who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and Who has also put His seal on us and given us His Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”
The point is his promise to visit them was rooted in God’s work in his heart: “I call these activities on my heart as witnesses. I didn’t lie to you.”
The modern parallel would be placing a hand on the Bible and swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help Him God.
There is an important point of faith here. Christians should keep their promises. We make promises all the time. We “intend” to keep it. Then, the busy-ness of life (not circumstances beyond our control) gets in the way.
We forget the promises. That speaks something to others about what is most important to you: You. Keeping your promise is more than a moral virtue. It is a reflection of the Holy Spirit’s work in our hearts.
David and I were in Ecuador sharing the gospel with a young woman washing clothes in a creek, Norma. I felt like she was moments away from committing her life to Christ. Suddenly, her angry uncle approached us. He made us leave. Hurriedly, we asked Norma if we could come back the next day. She eagerly agreed and gave us a convenient time.
We never made it back. We were with a large group. Try as we might, we weren’t able to readjust everyone else’s schedule. The logistics made it impossible. We felt terrible guilt for not keeping our promise.
In God’s providence, I was within an hour of her village two years later. I convinced our group to leave a day early so we could pass by her village. I found Norma and told her why we weren’t able to keep our promise. She understood.
I shared the gospel with her again. She was receptive, but not as receptive as before. Sadly, she didn’t commit her life to Christ that day. I hope she does some day. Who knows? Perhaps keeping our promise—even if two years delayed—will have a gospel impact on Norma. I hope so. Maybe we’ll see her in heaven one day. We can only pray.
Christian, keeping your promises is important. It builds trust with others so that when you tell them about God . . . they trust you. What’s more, it is a reflection the Holy Spirit’s work in your heart.