Promises - Monday Musing, February 1, 2021
Promises. A promise is defined as “a declaration that one will do or refrain from doing something specific; a legally binding declaration that gives the person to whom it is made a right to expect or to claim the performance or forbearance of a specific act.” We all make promises – some we keep, some we don’t. Why do we make promises that we can’t (or won’t) keep?
The author of Ecclesiastes writes, “Fulfill what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not fulfill it.” (5:4b-5 NRSV). Promises that we make to God should make us sit up straight and consider our words carefully before speaking. Will anyone know if you break a promise? Absolutely – you will. What is your word worth?
Politicians are known for making a lot of promises during campaigns. Some candidates will say just about anything to the crowd to get themselves elected. We all know – even at the time – that a political promise made while running for office is suspect. They have done it before (and will probably do it again), but we elect them anyway! It’s hard not to be jaded when it comes to politicians and their promises. Do we or should we hold politicians accountable for keeping their promises?
In today’s newspaper headlines, a person who “solemnly swore to execute the office” to which they were elected faces accountability for failing to live up to their promise. When promises are broken, some might argue that as a Christian we should “turn the other cheek” and forgive.
Forgiveness is not relieving a person of responsibility. Psychologist Dr. Kanayochukwu says forgiveness does not negate accountability. Accountability works when you use the right channels with the purpose of bringing about a change, to educate not condemn. Making promises is serious business, but so is holding people accountable, and forgiving those who break their promises. We should take all these matters seriously. I promise I will – will you?