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  • Writer's pictureMatthew L. Tinkham Jr.

Walking in the Image of the Forever Promise-keeper

Updated: Oct 4, 2019

"Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes of the people of Israel, saying, 'This is what the LORD has commanded. If a man[/woman] vows a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself[/herself] by a pledge, he[/she] shall not break his[/her] word. He[/She] shall do according to all that proceeds out of his[/her] mouth'" (Num 30:1–2, ESV).

          "He is a man of his word." "She is a woman of her word."  Have you ever heard someone say that in reference to another? Maybe someone has said this to you once upon a time. But what essentially does this "saying" mean? Of course, it's very simple; it means that this individual makes promises that he/she consistently keeps. Period. He/She is a promise-keeper. He/She always follows through when he/she gives you his/her word. To be a man/woman of his/her word is to be a person who is reliable and dependable. When such a person says that he/she will do something, you know that he/she will undoubtedly do it. You can count on him/her. We can have confidence and trust in such people, in their honesty, in their faithfulness, in their trustworthiness.           To be a man or woman of his/her word is an important virtue of character; it is an aspect of godliness! For God is a God of his word. The Bible repeatedly affirms that God is the forever promise-keeper (Josh 21:45; 23:14; 1 Kgs 8:56; Jer 1:12; Lam 2:17; Ezek 12:28; Rom 4:21; 2 Cor 1:20; Heb 10:23). The promises in Scripture are dependable and certain because they come from the mouth of our God who faithfully keeps all of his promises. We never have to doubt him; his Word is sure! He has never broken a promise! We can place our trust in the forever promise-keeper.           Through Moses, God called the Israelites, and he is calling us today, to reflect the image of the forever promise-keeper. Moses admonished the Israelites and us today to be faithful to the promises we make with others.  When we agree to do something for someone, we should fulfill that promise of our mouths. God wants us to keep our commitments to one another so that we can live honorably before him and others.           The truth is that trust is a basic component, a key ingredient, of healthy interpersonal relationships. God wishes that we all have intimate relationships with him; with our families; with our friends, neighbors, and co-workers; and with one another in the church. He wants us to experience the great joy of living in harmonious, trusting relationships with others. Being people of our word helps to build strong relationships with others. When we fulfill our promises,  we give honor and respect and love to those whom we have promised something. And verily, they will reciprocate in kind! God is well pleased when we keep our word to others.             More importantly, God smiles when we fulfill the promises we make to him. "Lord, I will pray and study your Word every morning."  "Lord, I will faithfully return my tithe and offerings to you through your church." "Lord, I will help mow Sister Sue's yard this Sunday." "Lord, I will help Brother Bill tend to his garden." These are all examples of promises we often make to God. And as God has been so very faithful to us, as our forever promise-keeper, let us be people that God can count on too!           This brings to mind the terrible story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1–11. They promised God that they would give them all of the proceeds from the sale of their property. However, when it came down to it, they selfishly held back a good-size portion of what they promised. They broke their word to him. The Apostle Peter confronted them, saying to Ananias, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit ... . Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God." (Acts 5:3–4, ESV) To Sapphira he said, "How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord?" (Acts 5:9, ESV). The story ends quite tragically for both of them because they were not people of their word. They were not following God's example of being the forever promise-keeper. And the reality is that breaking commitments to God and others can have unintended results.           This week, I want to exhort you and my own self, not with fear but with love, to follow the instruction of Moses given in Num 30:1–2. Be promise-keepers! Come through on all your vows and oaths to God and to others. Follow Jesus's example of faithfulness. As we can always lean on God, be someone upon whom others can lean. Allow the Holy Spirit to mold your character so that you can be a reliable and dependable person of your word. Walk in the image of the forever promise-keeper.  For this brings joy to God's heart. His face smiles down upon us.  And I guarantee you that your relationships with God and others will be all the richer. Let's hold one another accountable to the promises that we make one another and experience the abundant blessings of God!

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