A few days ago, I promised my son that I would pick him up early from the babysitter’s house.  Equally excited about the offer and angry about going to the babysitter’s house in the first place, he proceeded to ask me to promise him that I would come early.  About 50 times in 20 minutes.  Good times.

As I tried to field all of the questions while simultaneously not erupt from frustration, I started to wonder why he just didn’t take my word for it.  Sure, he’s a little kid.  He asks “are we there yet” 10 times on every trip to Wal-Mart (I always assumed that was an over exaggerated stereotype of children…it’s pretty spot on.).  He is going to ask questions, and I need to accept that.

But what about the rest of us?  Why do we insist on asking people to make promises or restate themselves several times to make sure they really mean what they are saying?  Why in the world don’t we trust each other?

Unfortunately, I think the real answer is that we can’t always trust people.  We have all been mislead, lied to, and even taken advantage of at some point in our lives.  That sticks with you, and it makes it hard to trust people wholeheartedly sometimes. 

I get that.  And we cannot control how other people behave or how dependable they may or may not be.  But we can control of our own actions and the words that come out of our own mouths.

Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned. (James 5:12 NIV)

Many people interpret this scripture to say that it is a sin to make a promise or to swear.  I believe James is dealing more with the fact that we should not have to. 

If we have integrity and make sure that our words and actions are always in line with each other, we should never have to swear by anything.  If we prove ourselves to be true to our word, anything we say should be taken as truth.  If we are who we claim to be, our word should always be enough.

So my challenge to you (and me) this week:  don't make any promises.  Let your yes be yes and let your no be no.  If you back up those words with your actions, others will start to accept that your word is enough.




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