Daily Success
Institute in Basic Life Principles

Command 8 : Keep Your Word | Day 50

Reject "Yea, Nay" Promises!

A father watched with growing concern as the heart of his son grew more and more distant from him. The 15-year-old boy used to love being around his father, but now he looked for every reason to stay away from him. The father made several attempts to rebuild their relationship, but nothing worked.

When I talked to the son, it became obvious that he was bitter toward his father. The depth of his bitterness surprised me. Several years earlier, his father had promised to take him on a weekend trip, but had never carried it out. In talking with the father, I quickly discovered that he had made only a halfhearted promise that he felt he really didn't need to keep. Thus, he violated this command of Christ:

Command Eight: “Let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil” (Matthew 5:37).

People count on us to do what we say we will do. The Pharisees of Christ's day had developed a clever arrangement to get out of keeping their promises. In making a promise, they would swear by something. Their intentions and sense of obligation to carry out their promises were revealed by the importance of that by which they swore. (See Matthew 23:16-20.)

Therefore, Jesus said: “... Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black" (Matthew 5:34-36).

When we make a promise to do something, we must be absolutely committed and sure in our minds that we really want to do it and that we can do it. We must keep our promises even if they require more sacrifice than we originally expected, as described in Psalm 15:

“... He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. ... He that doeth these things shall never be moved” (Psalm 15:4-5).

A "yea, yea” (yes) promise means that we will definitely do it and a "nay, nay” (no) promise means that we will definitely not do it. Notice the importance of this in James 5:12: “Above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.”

We have an important commentary on a "yea, nay” (insincere) promise in II Corinthians 1:19-20: “For the Son of God, Jesus Christ ... was not yea and nay, but in him was yea. For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.”

A "yea, nay" promise violates the nature of God, brings condemnation to us, and can cause bitterness in those who receive such a promise. Let's purpose from this day forward that we will mean what we say and that we will keep our promises to others even if it requires sacrifice to do so.

“But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil” (Matthew 5:37).

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Contributing writer: Bill Gothard