Monday, July 3, 2023

God's Standards

We know that God keeps all of His promises; we've talked about that a few times already. Whether He keeps them in our lifetime or in later years, whether He keeps them to us or to our children, whether He keeps them in this breath or the next one, God keeps His promises. You can count on that. 

You can also count on God to expect you to keep your promises. 

Even the foolish ones. 

There's a story as Israel is entering the Promised Land where a people from not-too-far-away hear that Israel has finally crossed the Jordan. Scared for their own safety and the future of their people, they pretend to be a people from very-far-away and come to Israel in tattered clothes with busted wineskins and beg for mercy, begging Joshua to make a treaty with them so that when Israel gets to their land, they'll at least be allowed to live. 

Israel doesn't ask God about this. They don't think they need to - the evidence in front of their eyes is very obvious. These people are coming in tattered clothes. These peoples' wineskins have busted. These people are caked in dirt. It's obvious they have come from far away. So Israel goes ahead and makes a promise to them. 

As far as Israel is concerned, this is a people who isn't even on their radar yet. This people is from so far away that Israel isn't even thinking about them right now. Israel's got just the next city on their mind. Just the next town. Just the next people. Not this people. So what does it matter if we make a treaty now? We'll deal with it later. 

If you're familiar with the story, you know that these people were not a people from very far away. They were a people that Israel encountered actually pretty quickly upon entering the Promised Land and now, they had to decide what they were going to do about the promise they made. 

God was very clear: they were supposed to keep it. 

It was a foolish promise. Made without thought. Made without prayer. Made without wisdom or guidance. But it was a promise nonetheless. And when you are a people of a God of the Promise, you keep your promises. Period. 

Sometimes, we think that the things we do are not the things God would have wanted us to do. We talk ourselves in circles trying to get out of the messes that we've gotten ourselves into. We justify ourselves, claiming that since God wouldn't have wanted us to do it in the first place, He obviously won't care if we don't follow through with it. 

But this scene from Joshua reminds us that that's just not true. While your first promise might have been a failure, it is a second failure to break that promise. It might have been a sin to try to act in your own wisdom like that, but it is a second sin to break your promise. Because God is a God who doesn't break His promises and this world knows the Lord through you (at least, in part). 

So if you do something foolish, the next best thing you can do is to make your next act one of faith. And that means keeping that promise. No matter what. 

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