I just wanted to put yesterday’s sermon in writing and share with all. As you may or may not know, our church “Good News” is almost 2 years old (this Jan will be 2). We are so thankful to our Senior pastor Vasile and his wife for planting this church. We have seen so many wonderful things happen in just 2 short years. In fact there have been so many victories and leaps forward that some of us (me included) seemed to be getting a little too comfortable in the routine of things. A small, subtle apathy began to grow, unnoticeable at first. It began to manifest itself in little ways, the main being lack of high quality in performing our tasks and not getting things done on time (not being on time). Moldovan time is very similar to Mexican time. Being on time is very open to interpretation. Last week as we met for our church council meeting, Vasile brought this problem to our attention and decided that we need to preach a series of messages on keeping our word as Christians at all times. I was honored to have the kick off message of the series and I would like to share it with you. Many claimed that the Lord really spoke to their hearts through this message. I pray that He will do the same for you.
The question is, why should I be a trustworthy Christian? This question will be answered in the following paragraphs.
I. Because God said so.
What better reason than the fact that our Lord (Ruler, Master) has told us to be trustworthy in all that we do. Let’s take a look in the Bible where He says this and see what He has in mind.
And you shall not swear by My name falsely, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:12)
To swear by God’s name means to make a promise and then invoke Him and His name to back up what you say. The reason that you have to promise and swear as “God as my witness” is because your word is not enough. You have to add more to it. There is some reason for the hearer of the promise to doubt you so you have to try and convince him/her of your word. To profane does not mean that you say swear words and then attach God’s name to them, but instead, profaning God’s name is explained in another Scripture (Scripture is the best interpreter of Scripture).
If a man makes a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. (Numbers 30:2)
Profaning the name of the Lord is seen in the fact that you call yourself a follower of God (His people) but do not keep your word or your promises. You say you will do a certain thing and then you do not do it or you say that you will not do a certain thing and then you do it. Why is this so bad? It is bad because God always keeps His Word and if we say that we are His children, His followers then we claim to have His character, meaning, when people look at us, we are to give a direct reflection of who God is (what His character is). As you know, oil and water do not mix very well and that is the same way we look to others when we claim to be followers of God and yet do not keep our word. You may say, “hey, keeping your word is not that big of a deal is it, I mean come one, the Bible really does not emphasize keeping your word that much.” Let’s see what God has to say about not keeping your word:
“When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it; for the LORD your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin to you. That which has gone from your lips you shall keep and perform, for you voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God what you have promised with your mouth. (Deuteronomy 23:21,23)
God calls not keeping your word sin and as we know and as the Bible clearly teaches, true Christians are to flee from sin in all of its forms.
Some practical advice would be:
- Always do what you say you will do
- Do not do one thing and say another
- If you say you will be at a certain place at a certain time then be there. If something comes up, do whatever is needed to carry out your promise (ask for help, make sure it gets done).
II. Because Jesus Christ said so.
After reading point number one, a person may argue saying that the quotes were all from the first half of the Bible and we live in the second half, we do not live under the old law but a new one. If that is your argument then you need to spend much more time studying the Bible because both parts of the Bible apply to Christians. Jesus taught extensively from the Old Testament (as well as the apostles). Here is what Jesus has to say on the subject of keeping your word:
“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one. (Matthew 5:33-37)
What does Jesus want to teach us here? If you are a person of your word, that is, if you say yes then you do yes and if you say no then you do no, then there is no need to add an “I swear” tagged on the end or “I give you my oath”. This is the kind of people we as followers of Jesus Christ are to be. Do you always say yes and do yes, say no and do no? Do you give others a reason to need an “I swear” from you? If you always keep your word, doing the highest quality work possible, and always have everything done on time then people will know and respect you as a person of your word. What about your service in the church, is it always to the highest quality possible? Again, if you give your word that you will do something and something unplanned intervenes, how do you respond? Do you drop the first one, having a good excuse of course, or do you do whatever it takes to make sure the first thing you gave your word to gets done?
III. Because Jesus’ brother said so.
Maybe a person reading point number two may say, “well that was Jesus and no one can be like Him, we are just His followers so we do not have to be so strict.” Again, if that is your argument then you definitely need to spend a lot more time studying the Word of God. One of the simple followers of Jesus was His half brother James, a man who did not believe Jesus while He was ministering during His 3 year service but believed after the Jesus’ resurrection. James tells us the following:
But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgment. (James 5:12)
There are no excuses for us a followers of Jesus Christ. We are to be people of our word because our Lord is a person of His Word. If we are not people of our word then what makes us any different from the rest of the world? Is it possible for us to be true Christians and not be different from the rest of the world? Let’s see:
I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.
This is Jesus’ prayer for all of His followers for all time. He prays that we will be in the Word of God and that the Word of God would sanctify us or set us apart from the rest of the world, even though we live in the world we are not of the world, especially in the area of keeping our word. Which side do you find yourself on, the side that does not need to swear or the side that must swear to get others to believe? If you have difficulty keeping your word then you need to come to the Lord in repentance and allow Him to change and help you.