Wisdom Devotionals

Keeping Your Word

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

James 5:12

[D]o not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall into judgment.


I asked a business owner in our church how he was doing. He told me his business was struggling. He had one major competitor in the field, a larger company that produced the same product, and he seemed to always come in second place.     

A prospective client, however, offered him a large contract and the president of the company even gave him a personal phone call to place the order.

In the course of the conversation, the president told him that they really needed to receive shipment by a certain date if he were to take the job. So the president asked the obvious question: “Can you meet my deadline?”

This Christian businessman knew that with his smaller staff, he would need another two weeks to fill the order.  He recalled to me how strong the temptation was to promise that man something he knew was virtually impossible to perform.  Thoughts crossed his mind like, “I can always sign the contract now and just make some excuse later for why things are delayed . . . that’s standard procedure!” 

Instead of making the promise with his fingers crossed behind his back, he told the prospective client the truth and was rewarded, yet again, by watching his competitor get the contract.

You’re probably expecting me to tell you that his business began to take off after that honest decision.  Unfortunately, the opposite is true. He struggled a few more years until he finally went bankrupt and lost his company.

My friend is now with the Lord.  I don’t think for a moment he regrets his decision to conduct business by honest principles.  Christ has, meanwhile, given Him eternal rewards in heaven far richer than any business prospects he lost on earth.

He was a man of his word . . . he’s now in the presence of his Savior who keeps His word, too.

It seems a bit radical nowadays to say yes when you mean it and no when you mean that, too.  Perhaps that’s because we have rationalized honesty to such an extent that it no longer seems important.  Are honesty and a handshake really that big  a deal to God?

Evidently.  That’s the kind of God we represent. We are His ambassadors in this world, and He happens to be a God who always keeps His word (Hebrews 6:18). His fingers are never crossed behind His back.

Think about it: What if God didn’t keep all the promises He made throughout Scripture? What if He just let one promise slip by unfulfilled? Which promise would you want that to be? 

They all matter.

In John Phillips’ commentary on James, he gives an excerpt relating to integrity from David Livingstone’s diary. Livingstone was the famous missionary who bravely carried the Gospel into the unreached interior of Africa in the nineteenth century.

According to Phillips, Livingstone wrote in his diary how, at every great crisis, he retreated to the promise of Jesus Christ, which happened to be his favorite text of Scripture: “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).

Livingstone concluded his journal entry with these words: “And this is the word of a gentleman of the most sacred honor and that’s an end of it!”

Christ keeps His promises . . . and so should we.


Prayer Point: Have you dropped the “integrity” ball lately? Is there someone you failed to keep your word to? Confess to God right now and then make things right with that person.

Extra Refreshment: Read Hebrews 6:9–20 and notice the references to our promise-keeping God.