Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Word Scramble - Lenten Journey Day 18 Devotional - March 25, 2014

Just say a simple, 'Yes, I will,' or 'No, I won't.'” – Matthew 5:37

I arrived early to my exercise class and decided to drop off a few things in the room.  As I walked in, there was a woman who I see regularly sitting in there.  We’d had conversations before and discovered a connection – she was around my mother’s age and had grown up in the same region of Illinois. 

As I observed her this time, she was quiet.  On the surface she appeared fine, but I could tell something was on her mind, so I inquired.  As she opened up she lamented about an event that had occurred recently.  She and her sister had planned an afternoon gathering for several girlfriends.  Still feeling like “outsiders” to Orange County, they thought this would be a great opportunity to connect and establish some more meaningful friendships.  All their friends RSVP’d; more than a dozen total.  Excitedly she and her sister decorated, prepared food, and made all the arrangements any good hostesses would.  The event time approached and you know what happened?  Their guest didn’t show.  Not a single one.  No cancellation, just no-shows.  She was clearly dumbfounded by the blatant disregard by all the guests of the commitment they had made.  It made her miss home.  “It’s like their word didn’t mean anything,” she whispered.

I nodded understandingly.  I’ve had similar experiences.  “It’s ok,” I reassured her, “people are just a little different here.”

But you know what?  It's not ok.

There was a familiar adage I’d hear from my uncle growing up, “your word is your bond.”
He would use that to emphasize the importance of integrity in my life; that I was measured by my ability to keep my word.  I carried that principle with me throughout my life. 
My uncle was very wise to instill this in me, but as I grew older I realized that his wisdom was grounded in the word of God.

“Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the LORD your God with your own mouth.” – Deuteronomy 23:23

Think about how flippantly we say things…
“I’ll call you right back.”
“I’ll be there.”
“I’ll get that right over to you”

It seems so trivial, but if the Word of God says that “life and death are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 8:21) then God thinks that what we say, big or small, is a pretty big deal!

Think of it this way.  Every time you go back on your word, the value of what you say decreases.

What’s your word worth?

Can people count on you or do you find yourself constantly excusing your failure to follow through on what you say. 

I recall watching a movie about Queen Esther recently.  Every time the King spoke his servants would proclaim “By your word!” to solidify the King’s decree.  Can you imagine that?  If you had someone make a proclamation every time you spoke, you’d probably be more careful about what passed your lips.  But it doesn’t take any proclamation, or a “pinky swear”, or an “I promise” to bond us to what we say.  We are attached to every word we speak.

“Don't make rash promises…”   - Ecclesiastes 5:2

Whether with money or with our words, we should never obligate ourselves to that we cannot pay. We cheapen ourselves we are not careful in this way.

Before you put your word out there, search your heart.  Can I keep this word?  Will I keep this word? What will I do to make sure I follow through?  Proverbs 20:25 tells us to think about what we say before we say it, “Don't trap yourself by making a rash promise to God and only later counting the cost.” 

Does God keep His word?
Then as His children, integrity should be a part of our character as well.  Our word is sacred. 
So what’s your word worth?  Can people take it to the bank or do they dismiss it as counterfeit?

Sometimes keeping your word comes at a cost.  An expensive one.   But it’s worth it.

Why?  Because integrity builds trust.  Trust is necessary to have influence.  Influence is necessary for impact.
And why is impact important?  Because we’re supposed to let a light.  Remember?  No integrity, no light.

And your integrity is also valued by God.

Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain? The one…..who keeps an oath even when it hurts” - Psalm 15:1,4

So keep your word.
Do what you say you're going to do.  Not some of the time, ALL of the time.
When it’s inconvenient.
When you don’t feel like it.

Because when you honor your word, you bring honor to God.

Let’s pray:  Dear God, help me to be a person of my word.  May my life be marked with integrity and truth.  Let my yes mean yes, and my no mean no.  I know it is your desire that in word in deed, I am a person of character.  Guard my mouth, so that I let only truth pass my lips.  And when I fall short, allow me to own up to it and make things right.  Give me a spirit of wisdom and discernment so that even my words bring glory to your name.  Amen.

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