[x_custom_headline type=”left” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″]I have been preaching the gospel for more than forty years. In that time, I have discovered that most people are big talkers. They are often quick to make promises, most of which they never intend to keep. [/x_custom_headline]
As a stated above, I have been preaching for more than forty years, but I entered full-time ministry in 1978. The leader of the ministry staff I served on back then was a stickler for keeping your word. He taught us, “If your word is no good, then you are no good.” In other words, if you say you are going to do something, you had better come through.
In addition, if members of the staff of this ministry were going on a ministry trip, we were given a specific departure date and time. Let’s say as an example, the staff is leaving Tuesday morning at 7:30. If you arrived at 7:31 you would find that the ministry van was already gone. So, if you think that 7:30 is when you should arrive, you are sadly mistaken, and also in need of a ride!
I have rarely found this kind of determination to live life based upon the promises one makes before or since. Most people simply say they will do this or that, but never come through. They honestly do not realize just how much this lifestyle of making promises they never intend to keep is negatively impacting their spiritual life.
For example, several years ago I heard an internationally known minister talking about the pledges he had received in his ministry the previous year. He mentioned that there had been thousands of people who had completed a pledge card to support his ministry financially on a monthly basis, but did nothing. He said that had they simply sent in two dollars each for the entire year, he would have been able to purchase two large diesel trucks that his ministry desperately needed. But those people never sent a dime. He stated that he could have wallpapered the walls of his offices with the pledge cards from the people who sent nothing even though they promised him they would.
This represents thousands of people in the Body of Christ who have absolutely no respect for their own promises. And what’s more, most ministers and local church pastors have similar stories of their own to tell. And the Bible is filled with such stories as well.
For example, Ananias and Sapphira, like so many in the family of God today, were big on talk and short on action. The members of the church they attended in the book of Acts were generous givers. The people were sowing financially and getting the gospel preached. They were getting the Church established and the needs of people met. Clearly the glory of the Lord was being outpoured on this church family.
However, Ananias and Sapphira had a heart to be noticed and applauded more than a heart for God. They conspired together to sell some of their property, and pledged what they made from the sell to the church. That is what they promised, but that is not what they did. Read the account of this incident below.
[x_blockquote cite=”Acts 5:1-11 AMP” type=”left”]“1 BUT a certain man named Ananias with his wife Sapphira sold a piece of property, 2 And with his wife’s knowledge and connivance he kept back and wrongfully appropriated some of the proceeds, bringing only a part and putting it at the feet of the apostles. 3 But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart that you should lie to and attempt to deceive the Holy Spirit, and should [in violation of your promise] withdraw secretly and appropriate to your own use part of the price from the sale of the land? 4 As long as it remained unsold, was it not still your own? And [even] after it was sold, was not [the money] at your disposal and under your control? Why then, is it that you have proposed and purposed in your heart to do this thing? [How could you have the heart to do such a deed?] You have not [simply] lied to men [playing false and showing yourself utterly deceitful] but to God. 5 Upon hearing these words, Ananias fell down and died. And great dread and terror took possession of all who heard of it. 6 And the young men arose and wrapped up [the body] and carried it out and buried it. 7 Now after an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not having learned of what had happened. 8 And Peter said to her, Tell me, did you sell the land for so much? Yes, she said, for so much. 9 Then Peter said to her, How could you two have agreed and conspired together to try to deceive the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out [also]. 10 And instantly she fell down at his feet and died; and the young men entering found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And the whole church and all others who heard of these things were appalled [great awe and strange terror and dread seized them].”[/x_blockquote]
Simply put, Ananias and Sapphira were liars! Lying to men is a terrible sin. Lying to the Holy Ghost is far worse. Here these two people are in a church where the manifest presence of God is, and where signs, wonders and miracles are taking place all around them. Yet they still had the audacity to lie to the Holy Ghost. And it cost them their lives.
Take a real close look at this passage of scripture. This is a New Testament church where this event occurred. These two people died in a church service where sin and the glory of the Lord could not abide together. The wages of sin is death, and on this occasion, payday came immediately. In fact, here is a classic case of liar, liar, pants on fire, in the literal sense!
Perhaps the job description for the ushers of your church doesn’t include digging graves, but maybe it should! Maybe we would get people’s attention better if the ushers of our churches passed the offering bucket with one hand, and held a shovel with the other. This could serve as a visual for “Thou shalt not steal.”
It’s not just the money issues where the Body of Christ is struggling to keep their word, to be sure. You name the category, and there seems to be a severe shortage of integrity. Unkept promises are a major source of problems among Christians, and that must end immediately. Every believer must come to realize that we are only as good as our word.