There is an under- valued concept in our world today even amongst Christians – commitment. I am not talking about the commitment we are supposed to make in marriage, family, or jobs though certainly we could use a refresher course when it comes to those as well. But I want to talk about commitment in the sense of following through with what we say we will do. We often make commitments before thinking because of zeal, a desire to please, or simply because we want to do something. Later, we realize we should not have been so quick to obligate because of a previous commitment, or once removed from the situation, we discover we are not as zealous and have a change of mind. As a result of people not valuing commitment, trust has become a huge obstacle in most relationships.
I do not pretend to have all the answers and I am quite sure people will disagree with what I have to say. But I remind the reader I only write what God is teaching me because I personally am in need of conviction. The one thing I will ask of every reader before we begin is resist getting into defensive mode. It is easy to make excuses for breaking commitments. Indeed, there is often times very good reason to break commitments or change plans. But more often than not we simply get into a habit of canceling plans and fail to follow through with our commitments.
It is interesting how rarely we break commitments with people whom we are not in close relationship with such as doctors, dentists, tax people, school officials, and the like. And these people are usually the ones who keep US waiting! Why is it we rarely hesitate to change plans with these people even though they routinely inconvenience us by making us wait until they are not busy? I believe the answer is we typically have a need we want them to meet, therefore we stay committed. Unfortunately what I am saying is that if it is to our benefit to remain committed, we do. We not only stay committed but we allow ourselves to be inconvenienced as long as we know our need will be met.
What does that tell us about our willingness to break commitments with those we are in close relationship with? When we routinely break commitments with friends and family we are telling them we do not need them, they are not important enough to us to keep our commitment with them, and other priorities take precedence over them. One of the reasons we break commitments with friends/family so easily is because we know we know they will still unconditionally love us and be understanding when we change plans. However, we should be as committed to them without a “perceived” need, as we are to doctors, dentists and others with whom we do have a need.
The Bible gives advice about making commitments in James 5:12. This Scripture tells us not to swear or make an oath with people but let our “yes be yes and our no, be no”. James is revealing that we confirm our word by doing what we say we will do, not by swearing or taking an oath. We should not have to swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. We should JUST DO IT! We should not need to “promise” to keep our word. We should JUST DO IT! Perhaps we have all been in that situation where we promised something we could not deliver and then came under condemnation “But, you PROMISED!” God expects us to say “yes” or “no” and then stand by our answer thus giving no occasion to be suspected of falsehood. God keeps it simple for us. If you say “yes” let it be so. If you say “no” let it be so. A simple thing to remember is “think” before saying yes or no. We will have no problem letting our yes be yes and our no, be no, when we understand both are good answers. Another good answer is “I will let you know” as long as you really do “let them know”.
God wants us to know our willingness and ability to be committed people who keep our word has long range effects beyond what we can presently see. Our ability to follow through with those things to which we have made a commitment can mean the difference between someone accepting or rejecting the Gospel message. When we say we will do things and then do not do them our character comes into question. When our character comes into question people begin to wonder if they can trust us. If people cannot trust us to keep small commitments, they will not trust us in the bigger, more important things in life, including our faith in Jesus Christ. In other to be a credible witness of Jesus Christ, we must be people of our word. People must know when we say we will do something we will do it. When we say we will be somewhere we will be there. When people know they can trust us as committed people of God, they will believe our testimony when the time comes for us to share with them the Gospel message.
We also know there are always those “exceptions” when we have to break a commitment because of an emergency. Things happen: Weather gets bad, children get sick, we get sick, babies are born, and of course a multitude of other things which cannot be controlled. Those scenarios would even cause us to cancel “appointments” with doctors, dentists, and the like. Certainly use wisdom to determine when it is both important and necessary to change a commitment. We should not feel guilty when things happen outside of our control making it necessary for our commitment to be broken. However, when it becomes the norm rather than the exception, we know we must take inventory and evaluate whether or not we truly value commitment, and if we say what we do, and do what we say.
May this word encourage us to be trustworthy people who can be counted on to follow through with our commitments. May it also remind us to let our yes be yes and our no be no with no disclaimers. And above all, may it cause us to press in with Jesus, hear His voice, feel His touch, and commit ourselves to Him, leading us to reach out to others as He reaches us!