Just say a simple, “Yes, I will,” or “No, I won’t.” Anything beyond this is from the evil one.~Matthew 5:37 NLT
Even as a young boy, I knew he was as good as his word.
My paternal grandfather was a simple man. He didn’t come from a wealthy family. In fact, he grew up in a small shack snuggled in the middle of a field located between Cameron and Elloree, South Carolina—a shack that had to accommodate him, his parents, and five other siblings. To make matters worse, when my grandfather was only twelve years old, he had to watch his father die, leaving him as the man of the house. Along with an uncle who agreed to help, my grandfather quit school in the sixth grade to care for the family farm. And all of this happened just prior to the great stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression.
By the time I came along, my grandfather hadn’t changed much in many respects. Although he wasn’t a farmer any longer—he drove an ice cream truck—he remained the simple man he had always been. He never made a great deal of money, so occasionally he would have to “rob Peter to pay Paul,” as he said. This might be to buy a house, to purchase a used car (he never owned a new car in his lifetime), to make a costly house repair, to buy a lawnmower, or to get a new washing machine.
Unexpected things happened more than once, so over time, my grandfather built up quite a reputation with the local banker. If my grandfather needed money, all he had to do was visit his “friend” at the bank and ask. I’m sure my grandfather had to sign some paperwork—although I doubt it was as much as he’d have to sign if he were alive today—but the manager didn’t run a credit check. He knew my grandfather, and he knew he was as good as his word.
What Jesus teaches—that we shouldn’t make vows or promises and sure them up by swearing by something—is somewhat impossible in developed countries. If I need to borrow, my word won’t be enough. I’ll have to sign mounds of paperwork and perhaps even put up collateral.
Although I may have to sign paperwork to borrow money, Jesus’ principle can still apply. The person I make a promise to should see I’m as good as my word. And this goes beyond borrowing money. Any promise I make, I should honor. Which means thinking carefully about what I promise, as well as taking any promise I make seriously.
The writer of Proverbs said, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold” (Proverbs 22:1 ESV).
When we’re as good as our word, our character shines through and so does our reputation—something that takes time to build, but something we can ruin by hasty or bad decisions. Once ruined, building it back takes a long time.
What are actions you can take to make sure you’re always as good as your word?
Father God, help me to follow Your example by being as good as my word.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Copyright 2020: As Good as Your Word: Author Martin Wiles: All Rights Reserved.