The Truth in Strange Places

I’m off to Brazil in the morning for a week of conferences down there. Never been to South America before, so this will be all new. Thought I’d leave you with this. I always enjoy finding powerful words and thoughts in unlikely places.

Recently professional golfing legend Lee Trevino was asked what is the greatest lesson he’s tried to pass on to his children. I loved his answer.

“One thing I’ve told them is that your word is your bond. That once you’ve lost your word, you’ve lost all your dignity. So when you tell someone that you’re going to do something, you do it. Regardless if it costs you. And it will cost you money sometimes, cost you time. But you gave them your word.”

I read that to Sara and lamented how few people live by that anymore. Everyone wants the freedom to make every decision new each day, even if their change of mind betrays the trust and love of others. I really don’t understand people who live that way. If people won’t abide by the simplest words of their own mouths how can any meaningful exchanges take place? Our society has concocted an entire legal system of contracts, lawyers, and courts, in hopes of getting people to stand by their word. But even that is a bit of a sham, because it may not count if you don’t sign a document or swear an oath. Like all systems it eventually becomes something to manipulate, rather than rely on for the truth.

That was one of my father’s bedrock lessons to me. The quality of your character rests in whether or not people can trust the words of your mouth. Even David talked about the one God loves “keeps his oath, even when it hurts.” (Psalm 15:4) Even Jesus sought to instill that in his followers: “And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. (Matt 5:36-37)

How much clearer could Scripture be? If you don’t fulfill your promises when it hurts, then what good are they anyway? If you don’t respect your own words and promises, how can you expect other people to have any respect for you?

The two greatest betrayals in my life came because people wouldn’t follow through on promises they made, and refused any conversation that might have found a better way forward through any legitimate frustrations in their commitments. Interestingly enough both brothers who couldn’t justify their actions with any reasonable explanation resorted to the same lame line, “God told me to do this.” The fact that they refused any discussion of their decision tells me God didn’t. One thing I know about people who listen to God, it makes them more humble and open even to being wrong, not more arrogant, demanding and dark. Those who truly hear God are always willing to discuss, to listen and to care about those their decisions affect.

I agree with Lee Trevino, if you lose your word you lose your dignity. If you want to live in the power of friendships, let your yes be yes and your no be no. Even when your promises cost you something you didn’t expect, stay faithful to them anyway. God will do marvelous things out of your faithfulness even to your own hurt. And Jesus was right, the enemy has a field day where people deny that simple reality.

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16 Comments
  1. kent December 2, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    profound words indeed. and all too rare these days it seems.

  2. kent December 2, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    profound words indeed. and all too rare these days it seems.

  3. Melbourne Sue December 3, 2009 at 1:08 am

    “God told me to do this.” Wow, that’s interesting. Weird :

    I am a woman of my word. If I tell someone I am going to do something, then I will do it unless something intervenes to make it impossible.

    Except when I left my marriage. Wow. And you know what? Dignity is a very good descriptor of some of what I feel like I have lost in the process.

    Good stuff, Wayne.

  4. Melbourne Sue December 3, 2009 at 4:08 am

    “God told me to do this.” Wow, that’s interesting. Weird :

    I am a woman of my word. If I tell someone I am going to do something, then I will do it unless something intervenes to make it impossible.

    Except when I left my marriage. Wow. And you know what? Dignity is a very good descriptor of some of what I feel like I have lost in the process.

    Good stuff, Wayne.

  5. Theresa December 3, 2009 at 5:53 am

    “Big deal!” Oh….not to what you wrote but rather, this seems to be the presiding attitude for far too many people. It gets overwhelming and battering when one never knows if a person is going to do what they say they will.

    I find that at times I can get sucked into the inertia on trivial things….even with my kids. (Ie, saying we’re going to get pizza and then I change the plans for one reason or another.)

    Help me, Lord!

    And blessings to you, Wayne, as you travel south. I’ve been to South America….it’s so beautiful.

  6. todd December 3, 2009 at 6:55 am

    ‘One thing I know about people who listen to God, it makes them more humble and open even to being wrong, not more arrogant, demanding and dark. Those who truly hear God are always willing to discuss, to listen and to care about those their decisions affect.’

    i really appreciated this statement…..as the others have commented….’God help us.’ 🙂

  7. Theresa December 3, 2009 at 8:53 am

    “Big deal!” Oh….not to what you wrote but rather, this seems to be the presiding attitude for far too many people. It gets overwhelming and battering when one never knows if a person is going to do what they say they will.

    I find that at times I can get sucked into the inertia on trivial things….even with my kids. (Ie, saying we’re going to get pizza and then I change the plans for one reason or another.)

    Help me, Lord!

    And blessings to you, Wayne, as you travel south. I’ve been to South America….it’s so beautiful.

  8. todd December 3, 2009 at 9:55 am

    ‘One thing I know about people who listen to God, it makes them more humble and open even to being wrong, not more arrogant, demanding and dark. Those who truly hear God are always willing to discuss, to listen and to care about those their decisions affect.’

    i really appreciated this statement…..as the others have commented….’God help us.’ 🙂

  9. nancy December 3, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    Agreed that the world is too full of words that don’t mean anything. People are also too quick to make promises/commitments without thinking through the implications. Change is a constant….people change, circumstances change….but God is most constant… and only He knows the future. Any human can fail to keep their word/promise no matter how sure they were when giving it. Trust in God’s promises and realize that human promises may fall short, both ours’ and others’. It is better not to make a promise than to break a promise. Don’t ask for promises from others. Recognize the difference between stating an intention and then making a different choice for a valid reason as contrasted with the giving of a person’s word or promise. Say what you mean, mean what you say….be as transparent and trustworthy as you can humanly be in the power of the Spirit. Give much grace…….

  10. nancy December 3, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    Agreed that the world is too full of words that don’t mean anything. People are also too quick to make promises/commitments without thinking through the implications. Change is a constant….people change, circumstances change….but God is most constant… and only He knows the future. Any human can fail to keep their word/promise no matter how sure they were when giving it. Trust in God’s promises and realize that human promises may fall short, both ours’ and others’. It is better not to make a promise than to break a promise. Don’t ask for promises from others. Recognize the difference between stating an intention and then making a different choice for a valid reason as contrasted with the giving of a person’s word or promise. Say what you mean, mean what you say….be as transparent and trustworthy as you can humanly be in the power of the Spirit. Give much grace…….

  11. Ian Stapleton December 5, 2009 at 4:59 am

    I heard it said once that good intentions are good. But if they are not acted upon they remain just that ‘good intentions’. I know that as I look back over life’s journey these ‘intentions’ have been evident, I think we have all been guilty of making the promise we could not keep. But being willing to admit this is the trick. Integrity is the thing I think of, being in His likeness to the point that we are true to our word just as Father is.

  12. Ian Stapleton December 5, 2009 at 7:59 am

    I heard it said once that good intentions are good. But if they are not acted upon they remain just that ‘good intentions’. I know that as I look back over life’s journey these ‘intentions’ have been evident, I think we have all been guilty of making the promise we could not keep. But being willing to admit this is the trick. Integrity is the thing I think of, being in His likeness to the point that we are true to our word just as Father is.

  13. Silvio December 9, 2009 at 8:41 am

    Ian, we have a say in French : Hell is paved with good intentions !!!

  14. Silvio December 9, 2009 at 11:41 am

    Ian, we have a say in French : Hell is paved with good intentions !!!

  15. Michele December 17, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    Thanks for sharing about your trip. When you shared about the young lady with tears in her eyes who you said if it where only for her the trip would have been worth it I knew in my spirit that’s exactlly how Jesus and Father felt about me. I finally “understood ” what I had always heard about Him coming even if it were only for me! Thank you.

  16. Michele December 17, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    Thanks for sharing about your trip. When you shared about the young lady with tears in her eyes who you said if it where only for her the trip would have been worth it I knew in my spirit that’s exactlly how Jesus and Father felt about me. I finally “understood ” what I had always heard about Him coming even if it were only for me! Thank you.

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