Today’s Bible Reading: Judges 11:29–40
Words are everywhere. We’re bombarded by words every day. Radio. TV. Billboards. Newspapers. Magazines. Contracts. E-mail. School projects. We use words to write lists, letters, proposals and e-mails. And we use words to communicate with our spouse, children, employer, clients and friends, as well as with God and even in our own personal reflections.
A wise person once said, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” That might be true of words as well. We’ve grown so accustomed to some words that they’ve lost their meaning. For example, what does the phrase “Big Sale” mean in retail outlets anymore? President’s Day Sale, Christmas in July, Anniversary Sale\\…retailers are getting more and more creative as they dream up reasons to declare that they’ve “slashed their prices.” And political rhetoric, broadcast 24 hours a day on cable news networks, rings hollow in our ears as well. The same is certainly true of promises that we make with no intention of keeping, whether they be directed to ourselves, to others or to God.
Jephthah, the mighty warrior and commander of Israel’s army, made a vow that he would sacrifice whatever came through his door upon his return if God were to allow him to triumph over the Ammonites. And God kept his end of the bargain. Upon Jephthah’s return, his daughter greeted him as she danced through the doorway. Can you imagine the inner turmoil, the emotional wrestling, the mental games Jephtha must have played to try to escape this predicament? Would anyone have thought less of him if he hadn’t fulfilled his promise? This was his daughter, his only child. But all evidence in this story indicates that Jephthah was a man of his word. He’d made a promise and he’d keep it.
Words may not mean much to us, but they mean a lot to God. In God’s eyes a promise is a promise. Ecclesiastes 5:4–5 expresses it this way: “When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it.” In other words, keep your word. Mean what you say to God.
Consider for a moment the promises you’ve made to God. What commitments have you made regarding your time, money, future, gifts and talents? Have you kept your end of these bargains? God has. Have you kept your word?
To Take Away:
- What promises have you failed to keep for which you need to ask God’s forgiveness?
- What factors make it hard for you to keep your promises or sometimes cause you to break your promises?
- In what ways has God been faithful in keeping his promises to you?