Helo-o-o-o, Mini-Women! Why, oh, why are my pictures posting sideways! Anyway, Maeryn is here with us, in the costume aisle at JoAnn, to demonstrate how smart it is of Nanny not to promise to buy anything, because Nanny (that's me) really wanted to buy her EVERYTHING! Especially that hat. How fun is that thing? I wanted one too. For me.
But back to promises. Some of the most worthless words we say don't sound like the ones on our list of Most Worthless Words (now up to 24, posted Saturday -- feel free to add to that list as you hear or say more -- just post them in a comment) Things like this don't sound so bad:
* "I promise I'll never do that again if you just won't ground me."
* "I promise to pray for you."
* "I promise I won't tell a single person."
* "We are always going to be best friends. I promise."
What makes them worthless? If you were here with me your hands would be waving because you know the answer: those promises become worthless when you don't keep them.
And you know what's even more worthless than THAT? When we don't intend to keep them in the first place.
Jesus is clear on those kinds of worthless words:
"Don't say anything you don't mean. . . . You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, 'I'll pray for you' and never doing it, or saying, 'God be with you,' and not meaning it. You don't make words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say 'yes' and 'no.' When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong." (Matthew 5:33-37, The Message)
Jesus is showing us WHY we make promises we don't keep, can't keep, or never mean to keep:
(1) We want to seem like we're better than we are. Promising to pray for somebody makes you sound like you and God are tight. Swearing you'll never tell somebody's secrets makes you look all honest and trustworthy. Anybody had THAT experience?
(2) We want to be the people we promise to be. Most of the time we really do wish we had a super close relationship with God, or were the person everybody trusted. Want to tell us about the person you WANT to be?
(3) We just plain want things to go our way. We don't want to be grounded or left out. We don't want to choose so we promise everything. Have you ever promised something just so things would go like you wanted them to?
Basically, empty promises are all about us, right?
So what does Jesus say to do about that?
(1) Don't say anything you don't mean.
(2) Don't "embellish" either -- you know, like putting lace on a ratty old t-shirt. Just say what's true: "When God brings you to my mind, I'll pray for you." "I'll try my best to be your friend." Or even, " I can't call you my best friend, but I can call you my close friend."
Jesus makes it sound easy. It IS simple, but it can be hard to do. That's why I'm providing you with a Journal Page for the week that will help you remember and keep track. Just click below and you'll have it to print out and fill in. We'll be getting back to it on Friday so be ready!
Need a prayer to get you started?
Dear God, please help us to only say what we mean, and to believe that we are truly enough in your eyes so we don't have to try to seem better than that. Please help us to want to get YOUR way, not ours. And when we mess up -- because we will -- help us to remember to come to you for forgiveness and another chance. We love you.