“…and keep their promises even when it hurts.” Psalm 15:4 (NLT)
Have you ever given the pinky swear or crossed your heart and hoped to die with a needle in your eye? I did countless times as a child. The older I get, the more precious sharing my heart is and keeping other’s secrets has become. Also, the more important keeping my word is to me.
Keeping our word is about much more than being a great friend. Many times I have either experienced or comforted those who have experienced the betrayal of a broken promise.
The Bible says for us to be very careful when we make a promise – “It is better to say nothing than to make a promise and not keep it.” (Eccles. 5:5 NLT)
Sometimes I think we promise quickly to gain the desired results. Maybe we sense some juicy gossip coming our way or something we want is tied to a commitment that we hastily make.
It helps to remember how important it is for our relationships to be based on honesty. Our integrity is at stake and it’s hard to regain trust once it has been damaged. James tells us in 5:12 (ESV) to let our yes be our yes and our no be our no. There is something to be said for times gone by when a person’s word was literally a bond or contract.
What do we do when we have broken a promise or lied to someone? Here are a few points to ponder:
- Repent from our sin, humble ourselves and come clean. God takes lying very seriously. Here are a few verses to let soak in. Lev. 19:11; Col. 3:9; Prov.12:22
- Take responsibility. Don’t try to shift a portion of the blame to another. Each of us is responsible for our own sin. (Romans 14:12) We just became untrustworthy. Ouch, it’s blunt but true.
- Live a life of transparency. The degree of transparency would certainly be tied to the nature of the relationship. For example, our lives and actions should be crystal clear with our spouses. Translucent, open. That kind of transparency would be unwise with a friend or co-worker.
- Realize that it takes time to regain someone’s trust. Trying to rush the process will set us back.
- Do our best. We will never be perfect but, we can be trustworthy.
- Decide today that honesty is non-negotiable and keeping our promises are a priority.
What should we do when others have lied or broken a promise to us?
- Acknowledge our feelings. We are going to be mad, disappointed and hurt. Those feelings are natural.
- Communicate those feelings and talk out the whats and whys.
- Forgive. This is a hard one and it will be a choice we probably will have to make every day. Sometimes several times a day.
- Seek counsel from a trusted advisor if you need to talk it through.
- Discuss accountability. Set boundaries.
- Guard our hearts. But, give them the opportunity to prove themselves to us again.
- Don’t constantly bring up the offense. That does no one any good. We are not going to trust quickly. It’s a process. Be willing to work through it.
I’ve had to work this process myself and I’m almost certain that you have too. We all have fallen short. The wonderful news is that’s what Jesus’ redemptive work is all about. Jesus is truth – “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life.’ “ (John 14:6 ESV)
We can live a life of honesty and forgiveness with the help of the Holy Spirit. May I pray for you today?
Dear Lord, we need Your help. Each of has struggled with this area in one way or another. Either we have lied to another, broken our promise or have felt the heaviness of having our trust broken. Heal us Lord. Help us have the strength to keep our promises, even when it hurts. You are Truth Jesus. Forgive us where we have failed. Empower us to forgive and to love as You do. We pray in faith believing this is a prayer that You will answer. In the mighty name of Jesus, Amen.
This post first appeared as a guest post on A Purpose Driven Wife