(2 Corinthians 1:17-19)
The Bible commends straight talking. We should say what we mean and mean what we say. Our word should be trustworthy. If we commit ourselves to anything, it should be as good as done. To be godly, our word should be reliable. To be Christlike, our promise should be sure. To be a gentleman, our word should be our bond. Yet why is getting straight commitment from a Christian young person such a rarity?
Have you organised any Christian event? Have you invited Christian youth anywhere? You will know that consistency in words is rare in Christian circles. 'Yes, I will come', becomes, 'Sorry, I can’t make it' with depressing regularity. How often the reason is a simple change of heart. How rarely it really is ‘circumstances beyond our control’.
My mother always taught me that if I agreed to do something then I should honour that commitment – even if a better offer came up. I had given my word. It was a matter of honour for our family. But it is more importantly a matter of biblical standard. In Psalm 15 David asks, 'LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?' Doesn’t his answer include, 'He who swears to his own hurt and does not change'!
The Lord accepts the man who gives his word, and keeps it, even if it costs him. Even if it costs him a more promising time of enjoyment elsewhere. Even if it costs him a nicer meal, a better deal, time with a pal, or getting the gal! His word is his word.
The Psalmist notes the contrast between the ‘yes and no brigade’ and the reliable word of God: Psalm 119:113 says: 'I hate the double-minded, But I love Your law.'
Contempt for confessing Christians whose word cannot be trusted may be warranted. Charles Spurgeon has his plain-speaking John Ploughman say, 'You may trust some men as far as you can see them, but no further, for new company makes them new men...They try to be Jack-o'-both sides and deserve to be kicked like a football by both parties.'
The man who goes back on his word is brother to the man who will not commit himself. Though the latter holds his tongue, he is just as frustrating. The man who prudently evaluates his engagements is doubtless wise. The man who leaves everyone hanging, and has the world wait on him, is a pest. 'He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways' (James.1:8).
Jesus was not a ‘yes and no’ man. Nothing would make Him turn back from His commitment to His Father. He swore to His own hurt and did not change. Likewise He says to you in Matthew 5:37: 'But let your "Yes" be "Yes," and your "No," "No." For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.'
Let John Ploughman conclude our straight talk: 'Be as true as steel. Let your face and hands, like the church clock, always tell how your inner works are going. Plain dealing may bring us trouble, but it is better than shuffling. At the last, the upright will have their reward; but for the double-minded to get to heaven is as impossible as for a man to swim the Atlantic with a millstone under each arm.'
Guest post submitted by Ali McLachlan, pastor of Cumnock Baptist Church