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Can We Depend On You?

Has anyone ever said to you, “You can count on me,” but he was nowhere to be found when you needed him?  Did you ever promise to help someone, but when the need arose, you found something else to do?  Why do we make such empty promises?  Why do we make commitments that we really do not want to keep?  Maybe we say things just to create the impression that we are loyal, devoted, and helpful while hoping that no one will ever call on us to actually do anything.  Maybe we deceive ourselves into thinking that we really are loyal, devoted, and helpful by finding conflicts to excuse our failure to keep our commitments.  We try to justify ourselves by saying, “I was going to help, but I had to (fill in excuse).”

There really is no excuse.  When we make commitments and then fail to keep them, it is tantamount to lying.  The effect of our failure is the same whether we intentionally welsh on our promises or not.  If someone depends upon us, and we fail to fulfill our commitment, then someone else must bear our burden or else something will be left undone.  The fault and failure is ours regardless of our good intentions or our excuses.

Unfortunately, broken promises are a way of life for many people.  The Scripture says, “Many a man proclaims his own loyalty, but who can find a trustworthy man?” (Prov. 20:6).  This propensity for bogus commitments is evident in nearly every facet of life – families, marriages, churches, businesses, friendships, politics, etc.  It is not difficult to find a person who will pledge his support, but it is a rare person indeed who is truly dependable.

This culture of hollow words does tremendous damage wherever it reaches.  It leads to uncertainty, instability, and distrust.  The Scripture says, “Like a bad tooth and an unsteady foot is confidence in a faithless man in time of trouble” (Prov. 25:19).  One who fails to keep his commitments simply cannot be trusted.  It is especially disappointing in the church and among Christians who should be bound to one another in honesty, loyalty, and devotion by the love of God.  Churches suffer because some of those committed to do the work fail to deliver when it is their time.

The virtue of dependability should be present in all of us regardless of how minor we may perceive our roles to be.  Remember that we are stewards of God’s blessings, and each of us will have to give an account of how we use them, even the least of them.  Do not deceive yourself into thinking that if your responsibility was more important, then you would be more dependable.  The Lord said, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much” (Luke 16:10).  A dependable person is dependable regardless of the size of his task.

If you are not dependable, then it is time to correct this flaw.  Keep the commitments that you make, and stop making commitments that you will not keep.  It would be much better to be honest by stating your unwillingness or inability to help with something rather than to commit to it and then not do it (consider Matthew 21:28-31).  Regarding the work of the church, we all should be involved, but if you do not intend to be involved, then do not say you will.  If you are not going to help teach the gospel, then do not commit to do so.  If you do not want to help with needful brethren (providing food, transportation, etc.), then do not volunteer.  If you do not want to preach, lead singing, lead prayers, or lead in any other act during the services, then do not commit to any of these.  Moreover, if you do commit to any of these things and there is a legitimate cause that prevents you from keeping your commitment, then have the courtesy to communicate your conflict to others so some other arrangements can be made.  By doing these things, it at least allows the church to know who will work and who will not.

Stacey E. Durham



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