“Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” -Matt. 5.37
In our culture, where words are so profuse and voluminous, where we are hit with speech and opinions from a thousand different directions, the value that we place on our verbal commitments is radically reduced. We walk by people at the store and ask, “How are you doing?”, with no intention of really hearing how they are doing. We tell casual acquaintances, “We’ll get together soon,” with no intention of really spending time with them. We make all kinds of verbal commitments that will soon be broken, and we have no idea how detrimental this has been to the character of the Church.
Jesus said that a verbal commitment made on fickle or uncertain grounds is something worse than forgetfulness or a minor mistake. It actually “comes from the evil one.” When we think about what comes from the evil one, we might think of witchcraft, adultery, or murder, but Jesus said that fickle commitments and half-hearted verbal promises were just as inspired by the powers of darkness. We’d better believe this.
We have excuses for not fulfilling our promises. “Something came up.” “I was tired.” “I was overwhelmed emotionally.” “I just didn’t feel led to do it anymore.” But the psalmist asked:
“O Lord, who may abide in Your tent?
Who may dwell in Your holy hill?”
One of his answers was:
“He… who swears to his own hurt and does not change.” -Ps. 15.1, 4b
Have you sworn or promised to do something, and then discarded that promise when the fulfilling of it became inconvenient, or even painful?
We have got to learn to let our words be as certain as the word of the Lord Himself, and to hold to them covenantally until they are fulfilled. Otherwise, we will not be able to abide in His tent and dwell in His holy hill.
We know very little of covenantal certitude. We know very little of the surety that rested on Christ because He knew He would go all the way to the cross, no matter how trying the resistance was. He was certain that He would fulfill His word, not because He had religious gusto, but because He was related to His father covenantally, and committed to our salvation entirely. He was willing to spill His blood rather than to break the word of the Lord. He was set on abiding in the tent of His father, and bringing us to His holy hill.
Therefore, dear saint, cease forever from making fickle commitments. Fulfill your words and promises, even when it hurts to fulfill them.