My dad taught me that a man keeps his promise no matter what the cost or what better turns up. I assume that there may have been extenuating (I mean really extenuating) circumstances where a man may request to bow out of a promise. A handshake was sacred. I further assume that he meant this for a woman as well.
My dad lived this out. I remember a certain eccentric wildcatter of a man from Grants, New Mexico who paid in cash (lots of it) in the oil patch and who always keep his word. Nothing had to be in writing. He was good for it.
These people of honor I find are rarer these days. Sad. Social currency erodes. Who do we believe, trust or can we count on?
“I promise” often means (or is interpreted to mean)
- I will (unless something better comes along)
- I will (but not if it poses an inconvenience)
- I will (but I won’t look you in the eye if I am going to reneg)
- I will (but you don’t really expect me to uphold this, do you?)
- I will (but you will have to continually remind, if not nag, me)
- I will (but I will “mail it in”)
What will you do today to be a woman or man of integrity, a woman or man of her/his word? Pray that I will as well.
“‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
“Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The first,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.
Matthew 21:28-32 (NIV)