• By Rev. Joseph A. Bias

Oaths, Promises, Pledges

In recent years it seems you hear fewer references to New Year’s Resolutions. The reason is many people have determined that they just tend to be “set-ups” for failure to stick with them. So, they just avoid them altogether. Despite the apparent trend there are still those who do try to mark the beginning of the year with a determination to accomplish some goals that have eluded them in the past, and some succeed in reaching their goals.

But, what about oaths, promises and pledges in general? Everyday we encounter situations and circumstances that compel us to make commitments, pledges, promises or take oaths. In social matters, particularly those associated with events such as dinner invitations or weddings, or entertainment events where an RSVP is requested, some can tend to be less than prompt or willing to respond at all. Even then, the promise is not absolutely firm in the minds of some.

In legal matters we are more inclined to take those oaths or promises more seriously, because there are very real negative consequences associated with them. Still, there are also those casual “throw away” promises that we would like to keep, maybe, but we probably won’t. And of course there are those pledges, oaths and promises we make with every good intention of fulfilling them but “life happens” and we either forget or we put them off until it’s too late.

In the Kingdom of God, promises, oaths and pledges are fundamental to the integrity of God’s Word. In Christ, as the Church, the Body of Christ, we each have a sober and important admonition from God to keep our word. And that admonition comes with a great promise.

“LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart; He who does not backbite with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor does he take up a reproach against his friend; in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but he honors those who fear the LORD; He who swears to his own hurt and does not change; He who does not put out his money at usury, nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.” Psalm 15:1-5

This passage might be rendered this way.

Lord, what is the nature and character of the person who may live continually in Your presence both in worship and in work? And the answer comes. The one who walks and lives in an upright, Godly, God fearing way, who does not say mean, spiteful things about others or criticize people to condemn them, who treats his neighbor with respect and seeks his good, who does not spread idle gossip or evil accusations against a friend for the sake of gaining wealth, one who despises all that is evil and those who traffic in it; one who honors and fears the Lord and regards with honor and respect those who do likewise; one who keeps his word even if it costs him or discomforts him to do so and does not renege on his promises, one who does not take a bribe to falsely bring a charge against an innocent person nor lends money to gain the advantage over those in need by charging them exorbitant interests, and never takes a bribe to falsely accuse an innocent person of a crime. The one who lives by these principles of life will never be shaken, or moved from a place of strength and stability in God.

Your words of promise, your pledges and oaths have great power to do good and to bring life and joy to others. Don’t take them lightly or fail to fulfill them. The certainty of your wellbeing and earthly condition depends on them.


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