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June 6, 1994

Read My Lips

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. . . who keeps his oath even when it hurts. PSALM 15:4
When promises are made today, it often seems there is an unspoken but fully understood rider attached to the contract. This rider says that the promise counts only if it’s convenient. So breaking promises—be they wedding vows or project deadlines—is OK if it would hurt to keep them.
Your marriage hits some rough spots? No problem: Get a divorce. Your experience isn’t quite good enough to land you the big client? No problem: Falsify your credentials. You aren’t going to make those quarterly goals? No problem: Move the goalposts.
In some industries, lies and broken promises are almost expected. In others, they are tolerated. In most, however, consistently failing to live up to your word will cost you credibility—with your clients, with your vendors, and with your coworkers. They may allow you to invoke the “something-came-up” rider to your promise, but your relationship will be damaged. Trust, which requires total faith that you will keep your commitment, erodes with every broken promise.
For many people in today’s marketplace, that’s just fine. It’s a cost of doing business. If clients, vendors, or coworkers don’t understand why you couldn’t keep a promise, that’s their problem.
But God places a high importance on keeping your word. Deuteronomy 23:21-23 warns us not to be slow in fulfilling a vow to the Lord. To break such a vow is a sin and as the writer of Ecclesiastes says, something done only by a fool (Ecclesiastes 5:4). In fact, the writer of Ecclesiastes sums it up pretty well when he continues, “It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it” (v. 5).
Perhaps that’s why the psalmist includes keeping our word—”even when it hurts”—in a list of things we must do to dwell in God’s “sanctuary” and live on God’s “holy hill” (Psalm 15:1). God, Who is unfailing in His promises to us, expects us to keep our promises, to Him and to each other—even when it hurts.

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