We may have first heard about promises from a childhood playmate informing us we must “promise not to tell” before they tell us a secret. We also sadly discover early in life that promises are usually broken.
The “cost” of making a promise is very easy, only requiring the utterance of two words: “I promise.” But I remember finding out that simply saying the words “I promise” was not always good enough. A promise apparently needs an additional promise to make it good. More than once, I was unsettled to find I was required to add: “Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.” Upon hearing this and visualizing the grisly image portrayed, I decided I no longer wanted to hear the secret. It wasn’t worth the possibility of having to stick a needle in my eye, much less the prospect of dying.
Promises are important! As we grow older and learn about life, we find that promises come in many forms. There are guarantees and warranties on products, promissory notes, vows, agreements and contracts, with “fine print” legalese, definitions and loopholes. To lend credibility, some promises are printed on legal paper with notarized signatures, official stamps and seals and filings in various offices or financial institutions in mammoth buildings with sturdy vaults.
We also may learn that a warranty on a product has legal “mumbo-jumbo” about parties of the first part that explains why a product isn’t really warranted to parties of the second part. A guarantee may not “really” be a guarantee. A peace treaty may not be worth the paper it was written upon. The same is true for agreements, vows, oaths, and pledges. Experiencing just one failed promise may make a person distrustful of every promise.
Manufacturers add words like “iron-clad” to their guarantee to induce us to believe their promise. But a failed promise is a lie, and a broken promise is worthless. Is it any wonder that experienced customers do not believe promises until they read the fine print, rather than believe advertising “puffery” at face value?
Why does the word “promise” often mean so little? The answer is that Satan, the ruler of this world, is a liar! Satan is the father of lies who has deceived the whole world (Revelation 12:9). So it is no wonder that guarantees, warranties, contracts, and promises are so untrustworthy in today’s society.
What a disappointment! The words “I promise” are seemingly meaningless! My apologies to all honest used car salesmen and politicians, but surely they recognize that most people don’t trust them or their promises. Many people have become suspicious, untrusting, and jaded. There are even gestures, funny faces, and picturesque ways to express our disbelief in the untrustworthiness of promises such as, “If you believe that, I have some waterfront property I want to sell you” or “I trust them about as far as I can throw them.” Talk about a credibility gap!
Is it any wonder then, when people read God’s promises in the Bible, they are skeptical? They have been “pre-programmed” to be so. Satan does not want mankind to believe what God says or has promised believers. But God’s word is true, and His promises are sure and absolute. We must not let Satan influence our thinking about the promises of the Almighty God. And He has made wonderful promises to believers who trust and obey Him.
Coming to understand that God’s promises are sure and absolute is wonderful. A child understands that “A promise is a promise.” It is that simple. A child does not need a legal interpretation, and has no regard for side-stepping semantics or waffling words that “explain away” a promise. And when God makes a promise, it is rock solid and unbreakable—no needles required!