Broken Promises

April 26, 2014

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I recently was at a wedding where the minister had everyone in the audience turn to their spouse and say, “I still love you.”

It reminded me of how easily we make and break commitments in our modern culture.

We all know the epidemic of broken promises involving marriage, but even in simple things we like to keep our options open.

How many times do we agree to do something or go somewhere knowing full well it is till “a better option” presents itself?

In the missions organization where I work, I frequently see young people make 2 year commitments until a better option comes. Then, conveniently, they get a new “word from the Lord” or God tell them to break the commitment.

It makes God look like a schizophrenic. At best, He is portrayed as a weak, easily persuaded, “flip-flopper”.

While modern society seems to make commitments knowing there is an escape clause, it seems in the Bible, people honored even bad decisions. They went out of their way to keep promises.

Joshua 9 tells the story of the Gibeonites deceiving Joshua in order to spare their lives. Even when the deception was discovered, Joshua honored his word to them.

Hundreds of years later, David still honors someone else’s word. In 2 Samuel 21, he avenges the Gibeonites because Saul did not honor this oath.

What made David honor a deceptive covenant made hundreds of years earlier?

He obviously valued keeping your word. David knew the pain of broken promises as he watched the life of Saul. Saul’s entire life was one broken promise after another.

But this is an old covenant thing, right?  Surely we are under grace!

Sure there is forgiveness for our careless words, but Jesus himself weighed in when he said, “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, anything more than this comes from evil.”

Forgiveness does not remove the consequences of a bad decision.

James adds a simple yet so difficult challenge,  “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”

Making bad decisions and facing the consequences is something we learn from. I wonder if we kept our bad commitments, would we would be slower to jump into things in the future?

It seems Biblical view is to honor word even when you’ve made a bad decision.

In doing so, we may learn a valuable lesson.

While this is not an absolute truth, we need to take pause and consider if our modern view lines up with God’s view.

At the very least, it will give a greater value to our words and promises.


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A missionary teacher for 24 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God