Have you ever found yourself thoughtlessly voicing a commitment or agreement only to have to retract your words later on?
Something sounds great in the moment, but then later, after contemplation, I realize it simply won’t work.
Have you ever had someone make a commitment to you, then break it?
Are there people in your life you’ve marked as undependable because their word really means nothing?
You can probably answer yes to both of those questions.
Unfortunately, the power behind giving our word to someone doesn’t carry as much weight as it used to. Our word is no longer a thing of honor. Instead, easily given and retracted without much thought.
If we really want our word to be taken seriously, we feel the need to add an “I promise” to it.
Does our word, without a promise attached, mean so little?
While I certainly hope not, I can look back and remember times I did not honor my word like I should have. The Bible reminds us in Matthew 5:37 and James 5:12 that our yes must mean yes and our no must mean no.
No additional oaths are necessary.
Matthew Henry’s commentary put it this way,
The worse men are, the less they are bound by oaths; the better they are, the less there is need for them.
Our word should be trustworthy!
So, how do we make sure our word is spoken and received with honor?
1. Be slow to respond.
I can easily speak before I think, which is something I am working on. When I speak quickly, there’s a greater chance that I’ll have to do some backtracking.
If we are slow to respond, we give ourselves time think, allowing our response to be with certainty. We can be confident that we mean what we say.
2. Don’t “make promises” you can’t keep.
I can remember as a child using the excuse that I didn’t promise as a way to go back on my word.
The truth is, we should never give our word if we aren’t sure we can back it up with our actions.
3. Follow through.
If you give a commitment, follow through. Honor your word consistently and people will recognize the value of it.
The Bible is pretty clear about what God thinks of our words.
Not only are we instructed to hold our tongue and taught the power of life and death are in the tongue, but Matthew 12:36 tells us that we’ll give an account for every careless word we speak.
Like David in Psalm 19:14, my prayer is that my words would be acceptable in God’s eyes. My challenge is that we would be more thoughtful with our words so that it means something when we give our word.