Is Our Word Good?

Over the last couple of weeks, I have attended three very different community gatherings in three different cities. All of the events were well thought out, planned agendas, pre-registered attendance, time given to decorate the space, and planned food. 

With a pre-register, attendees sign up and commit to come. They give their info and receive several reminders of the commitment. At the first event, 40 people no-showed. At the next, 36 people no-showed. At the third, 8 people no-showed. 84 people did not keep their word. They said one thing and did something else. 

Considering the other programs I attended in this two week timeframe, if I knew the remaining stats, the no-shows would be well over 100. Over 100 people who did not do what they said they would do. 

How do we trust each other? 

“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. – Luke 16:10

If you have seen me in the last few weeks, this dilemma has been swirling in my head. What have we become? 

All of these people are professionals. They hold viable positions in their spheres of influence. They have hosted or attended a multitude of previous events and they are NOT clueless to what it takes to prepare. Each person is educated, likely the majority hold degrees above high school level. They have been taught timeliness since they raced to their high school home room class to avoid a tardy. Most of them grew up in an era where turning in school work late meant points off the grade or a zero. If we interviewed them on whether they were taught the importance of keeping their word, most, if not all, would confirm “yes.”

The Bible even teaches us about being people who honor our word. 

“Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices.” -Colossians 3:9 

“The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.” – Proverbs 12:22

“Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are His delight.” Proverbs 12:12

If we asked someone who didn’t show up, “why did you lie to me?” they would probably explain…. “oh I didn’t lie,”

  • Something came up 
  • I overslept 
  • My kids needed me
  • I was late on a project for work
  • I got stuck in traffic
  • I needed a day
  • Someone died 
  • I felt sick 
  • I thought there was a zoom option 

On and on, we would justify our inability to keep our word with an excuse. Reasons for why our not showing up is reasonable and right. But, in those moments, are we not lying. We promised one thing and did something else. 

How can my word be trusted if I back out of all my commitments? Why would anyone believe I was coming? 

Evidence of the problem is the constant e-mail, phone calls and text follow ups we all receive to verify if we are coming. I don’t want people to have to verify “are we still on?” as I want them to have confidence in my ability to keep my word. 

Also, we are wasting time following up, canceling, rescheduling, and starting the cycle all over again. I’ve told people so many times, If I commit to you, you don’t have to follow up, and they tell me, “I’m so use to showing up and people not meeting me that I feel like I have to follow up to verify.” 

What I hear is… we cannot trust each other so we have to follow up again and again to remind each other and hope for the follow through we previously held close and called commitment. 

Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.” James 5:12

We do not have to swear to one another to validate our promises. Our word should be yes or no. We should be able to count on it! 

But here we are in a vicious cycle where we are disrespecting one another because we found something better to do. I remember when my friend paid $30 per person (maybe more) for a catered meal for her WEDDING and people did not show up. She wasted God’s valuable resources, He entrusted into her care, because her friends did not do what they said they would do. 

How hurtful! But, we do this to each other. We say, “let’s meet up for coffee,” but we do not follow through. We plan a meeting and cancel a few minutes before it is scheduled to start. We commit to one party, but ditch it for another which sounds more fun. We promise to cookout until we get free football tickets to our favorite team game. We over commitment so we tell each other, “I don’t feel well, can we go for a walk another day.” 

“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” – Ephesians 4:25

We are family. Many of us profess to walk with Jesus, but we do not look like Him. Our actions do not match our words. He never breaks His word. He keeps His promises. If we want to love and live like Him, we have to tell the truth to one another. 

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” – 1 John 3:18

As a follower of Jesus, our actions demonstrate our love for one another. If you cannot trust my words, how can you really understand my love for you? 

Over the years I have been working on my “cancellation policy.” My personal awareness has helped me embrace the desire to be a person who does what I promise. Unless something extreme happens, I’m not breaking my word because I never want another person to have to rebuild their confidence in my commitment. 

How can I be a good friend if I never show up? Why would you count on me? Why would you trust me to be there to listen? Why would you believe me? Why would you risk confiding in me? Why would you cook enough for dinner if you never believed I would come sit at your table? 

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” – Luke 6:31

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 7:12

I want to live that! No matter if 100 people failed to keep their word at the gatherings I attended in these two weeks, I want to keep mine. I want to obey God. I want to do to others what I hope others would do to me. I want to live authentic. I want my yes to mean yes. I want to be known as trustworthy. 

All the ways I want to live, I want you to live too. Not because of my preferences, but because God wanted us to be people whose word could be trusted. He knew if we trusted one another, we could impact the world with more collaborative ideas, unity and creativity. We would run together for Him because we would all show up and do what we promised. 

“For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.” – 2 Cor 8:21

We are people of integrity because we are a people who are seeking to emulate our Creator, to be a mirror of His attributes, so the world will look at us, and believe we really are who we say we are. Our actions will validate what we say. We will live what the Word says and every yes, backed by action, will earn us the right to be trusted. 

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:8-9

Today, let’s practice truth. 

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