Keeping Your Word

Keeping your word is almost unheard of among politicians. It’s becoming a lost art form among regular folks as well. Sadly, we have come to expect and accept this. Cicero told us the tragedy of not keeping your word is that eventually “a liar is not believed even though he tells the truth.” It’s a real breath of fresh air today when you meet someone who actually keeps his word.

Thirty-five years ago we lived in Appalachia and wanted to purchase a little land so we could build a house. Farmer Brown had some acreage that caught our eye. When we met he told us he had a special affection for this particular parcel of land because he wanted to give it to his son to build on.

“Uh oh,” we thought. “Is he good or what?” We were city people and used to dealing with cunning sales people. We could feel the price rising even as we spoke.

Then he quoted us some astronomically low amount. He liked us. We were a nice, young couple with two small children and he wanted to help us. We quickly agreed and said we would have a contract drawn up immediately. He found this insulting. He said if we needed a contract the deal was off. His handshake should be a good enough bond for us. We trusted him and shook on it. He was refreshing, honest, and true to his word.

That was many years ago and I’m not sure we would have that kind of confidence in a man’s word today – even in Appalachia. There has been too much media exposure on ways to lie, cheat, and steal and even more glorification of those who do. Politicians, CEOs, salesmen, and almost everyone you meet are adept at twisting words to get what they want. If a “man is as good as his word” there are not that many good men left.

The Bible speaks of a good name being better than precious ointment. (Ecclesiastes 7:1) and putting confidence in those that are not true to their word can be painful. (Proverbs 25:19) As Christians, others should be able to count on what we say.

How good are we at keeping our word? Can we be counted on to do what we say? Can a person rely on us to follow through with our end of the bargain if all we gave was a handshake to bind the deal? If we say we will be there to help someone, will we show up? These may seem like little things, but those who are faithful in the little things are faithful in the bigger things. (Luke 16:10)

If a “man is as good as his word” there are not that many good men left. Yet that doesn’t mean we can’t be one of them.

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