In Psalm 15 we have a question, "LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?" One of the answers is in verse 4, "He who swears to his own hurt and does not change."
Matthew Henry comments on this verse saying that this kind of man "is one that always prefers a good conscience before any secular interest or advantage whatsoever; for, if he has promised upon oath to do any thing, though afterwards it appear much to his damage and prejudice in his worldly estate, yet he adheres to it and changes not...See how weak sighted and short-sighted even wise and good men may be; they may swear to their own hurt, which they were not aware of when they took the oath. But see how strong the obligation of an oath is, that a man must rather suffer loss to himself and his family than wrong his neighbor by breaking his oath. An oath is a sacred thing, which we must not think to play fast and loose with."
Some people distinguish between an oath and giving your word. I am not into discussing this. What I want to point out is that in a Christian society when you give your word to another person, your job is to keep it even if it means suffering loss to your own interests. If you cannot keep your word, do not give it in the first place.
If giving your word is contingent on some secret plan or information that you possess that might make it so that you cannot keep your word, then do not make the commitment in the first place. Or, at the very least, explain your secret plan to the person it would affect so that they can make a decision on whether or not to place their confidence in you.
If an emergency arises, then plead with the person to whom you made the commitment to release you, but explain who is bleeding or dying in the family that would cause you to have to break your word.
Twice in two months time, Christian people who had made a commitment to a member of the caer have broken their word. Both times the Christian had given their word, understanding the effect that their not keeping their word would have on a member of our family. This caer family member had been planning a project important to them for two years. Both Christians had other possibilities in the works that would preclude them from keeping their commitments, and yet they made them anyway. It was all about them and their own advantages. If they had at the very least been forthright and honest and told the caer resident of the potential of not being able to participate, then our family member could have made a wise decision and not included them in their plans. But now, because of these Christians seeking their own things and not considering the things of others, it has damaged one of our clan greatly. This particular clan member is one of the most gracious and trusting of us. Even when warned that there could be problems with trusting one of the Christians, the clan member wanted to give them a chance and has suffered loss because of having a forgiving, gracious nature.
So what is my grief today? Of course it is over the hurt and wrong done to one of my own. But I have a much deeper and greater grief that cannot be healed by someone apologizing or feeling remorse. It is over the obvious and apparent sickness of the Body of Christ. Because this whole issue of breaking commitments is just one symptom of the overall sickness of the Body of Christ. When even unbelievers say that they cannot do business with Christians because they do shoddy work, are unreliable, and are not trustworthy, it is a sad state of affairs.
In a healthy body, for the most part, things work the way they are supposed to work. When the Body is strong and healthy, much is accomplished for the kingdom. But today, the Body of Christ is ill and there is little health left in it. For it is not working the way that it should and we all need God to grant us the gift of repentance before He can even begin to heal this sickness.
Our family is learning so many lessons from these experiences so we know that it is working together for our good. But we are coming to understand exactly what Paul meant when he said, "For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus." (Phil 2:20-21) What is being like-minded? It is letting "this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus...." It is letting "nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interest, but also for the interest of others." Philippians is usually said to be all about "Joy". It really is all about learning the mind of Christ and living it.
---posted by Queen Lucy