“People with good intentions make promises. People with good character keep them.” - Unknown
“The best way to keep one’s word is not to give it.” – Napoleon Bonaparte
People seem to be increasingly bad about not keeping promises. Or worse, they take on the philosophy of Bonaparte and don’t make promises at all; feeling this frees them from obligation and expectation.
As a child, I remember this going both ways and the elated joy that would come when promises were kept, and the broken spirit when they were broken. It may sound silly, but one of the most vivid memories I have of promises was when I was ten years old. The Disney movie Mulan was in theaters and my dad promised to take me to see it. Finally the day arrived, and I was pumped (don’t ask me why, I don’t know, I think I was just excited to spend time with my dad). Unfortunately, some unforeseen issues arose in my father’s life, and he had to break his promise to me that day. We did go see the movie later on, but I still vividly remember the spirit crushing feeling I had that day.
Now as a parent, I see times when this same spirit crushing occurs. As much as I try, there are just times when I fail and fall short to meet their expectations. Even when I don’t promise something explicitly, the expectation seems to be there implicitly. Their heart can be hurt by my failures and inability to keep every promise perfectly.
In Genesis we have several instances of God making “promises” to Abraham. The covenant He made with Abraham was so much more than just a promise though, it was an absolute guarantee! What makes the promises of God so incredible to me is not God’s faithfulness (although this is absolutely amazing!), no, it is Abraham’s trust in God’s faithfulness. From the beginning, Abraham believed God; he had faith in the promise. This was not because of the promise itself, but instead in the One promising. God had been found faithful, and thus Abraham believed. This becomes even more amazing when we realize Abraham acted without knowing all the details. Hebrews eleven tells us that Abraham went even when he didn’t know where God was leading him. Abraham believed he would have innumerable descendants even when he didn’t have one child.
We see the faithfulness of God play out in Chapter fourteen vividly. Each of these kings mentioned were leaders of what we would call city-states. Power shifted often as they warred and squabbled between one another. The “big kid on the playground” was Chedorlaomer king of Elam, who for twelve years has had dominion over theother provinces. Five kings finally got fed up with him, and rebelled in the thirteenth year. Things didn’t go so well, and Chedorlaomer and his gang spoiled the cities, including taking prisoners (slaves). Among the captives was Lot. Abraham in informed of the issues at hand, and gathers his three hundred and eighteen servant/soldiers. Single handedly, Abraham did what these combined kings could not, he whooped Chedorlaomer. We could say a lot about the two kings and their response to Abraham’s actions, but that is a full study in its self! Just look at the faithfulness of God.
God knows how to make and keep promises. I am thankful that He cannot lie, and has made “exceeding great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:4) to us. Today take a moment to recognize the promises of God, and His faithfulness to come good on His promises EVERY TIME.
Daily Scripture Reading
(Follow this Scripture Reading Plan to accompany this devotion and read through your Bible in a year)
“And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it unto him for righteousness.”