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How often have you had the intention to do something or change in some way, but in the end, you don’t follow through? Whether it is a promise you have made to another, or even to yourself, words have power. And when we use our words to make commitments, we should take them seriously. Oftentimes we find it easy to make promises with our words but have no intention of following through or find it difficult to keep that promise. Now, our vows may not always take the form of the words “I promise I will…” but instead may sound like “I’ll be there at 10,” or “I’ll pray for you,” Or “I am going to get up at 6 am and read my bible every day.” Many times, this leads to discrepancies between what we say and what we actually do. Scripture informs us to take care with our words and warns against taking oaths.
James 5:12 But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.
Matthew 5:37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.
Sometimes we may think our words are strong enough to get ourselves to do something, or we might even have the intention of following through, but our lives have become so chaotic that our capability to follow through is void. Other times, we might desire to look good in that specific moment but have no real intention of following through. It is important that we evaluate ourselves honestly in these instances and consider our intentions and how our words impact others. As Proverbs 18:21 says, Death and life are in the power of the tongue.
When we are careless with our words and make promises and commitments we do not have the capacity to follow through with, we often end up hurting those around us. Rather than attempting to please people in the moment, we should be prepared with practical things to say or do instead. For example, telling someone you cannot give an answer in the moment, that you need time to think about it, or even simply telling that person no is necessary because saying nothing is better than not keeping your word. Consider the instruction given in Ecclesiastes 5:4: When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. 5 It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. And in Ecclesiastes 5:2 Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. As followers of Christ, we must value our integrity and carry ourselves differently than the rest of the world. Our words should carry weight and truth, instead of serving to reinforce falsehoods about ourselves, such as the lie that we can’t change.
Ultimately, we may never be completely in control of our tongues, but we serve a God who never goes back on His promises. We can trust in His word, His promises, and what He has said. We can ask him to teach us. We can practice following through, perhaps even having consequences for our failure. We can practice saying “yes” or “no” instead of “maybe” or something else. We can remember although we are not perfect, we follow the one who is, and we can be a light to the world by staying true to our word.
The foundation of a disciplined life is integrity and doing what we say we’re going to do. — Rory Vaden
Success comes from what you do, not from what you say you are going to do. — Larry Winget
Do what you say you’re going to do! People can do nothing but respect that. — Steve Harvey