Recently, I sold a musical instrument I owned to someone who plays “on tour.” That means they play some pretty large venues in their life. Places like the Today Show, large arenas, stadiums, large music events and most recently, the Grand ‘Ol Opry. (I can only dream.) We made a transaction where, in exchange for what I had for sale, they would provide a trade and some money. The trade took place almost two months ago and I was told that when they picked up what I had for sale, I would be paid in full. That didn’t happen and I agreed to take half now and half by a certain time. Long story short, the time came and went and I wasn’t paid, neither did I hear anything about the balance that was due.
Like I said, that has been almost two months now and, this week, I finally received a check for the balance due. Just an envelope with a check in it. No card of thanks. No letter of appreciation for being patient. Just a check. I have to tell you I feel used. Not that we became big “buds” or anything, but we have texted each other and called each other and are friends on Facebook. (Doesn’t that count for anything?) And then to just receive a check? A note saying, “thanks for being patient,” or something to acknowledge that they didn’t live up to the terms of the deal, or an apology for being late with the payment would have gone a long way.
So, why did I share that with you this week? Because most of us have had an experience similar to mine. Someone has told us something and they didn’t do what they said they were going to do. Or made a promise and didn’t keep the promise. My wife joined a club last year and many times the meetings were cancelled. Already this year, their very first meeting has been cancelled. I don’t think she is going to be active in that club, just because she doesn’t know if they are going to do what they say they are going to do. How many times has that happened to you? And then, the person who promised something acts like everything is OK and nothing is wrong. Serious?
What I think is lacking in our society today (among numerous other things) is a lack of integrity. Most of us want people in our lives (spouse, friends, family members, neighbors, friends at church) who will be honest with us. We want them to be people of integrity, and they expect the same from us in return. I am impressed with the story of Samuel (I.Samuel 12) where Samuel addresses the Israelites at the close of his life and asks them if he owes anyone anything to let him know and he will repay them.
No one rose to make a claim against him. That speaks bundles, doesn’t it? No one rose up to make a claim against him. Could that be said of you? Do you owe someone something that you “borrowed” and have yet to return? Or maybe someone made a loan to you and the loan is still unpaid? Maybe you took something that doesn’t belong to you and it needs to be returned? We live in a world where many people are skeptical. Why? Because someone has told them something and then has not followed through on what they said, or they failed to do anything at all. The biblical example of integrity is a consistency between what is on the inside and what is outside. In other words, between our belief and our behavior, our words and our ways, our attitudes and our actions, our values and our practice.
How do you treat others in your life? Do you tell them something and then do something else? Do you promise something and then don’t follow through? It’s easy to do. Example: Your son comes up while you are reading the paper and asks, “Dad, can we play catch?” Your reply is, “In just a minute, son. Let daddy read the paper first.” So he goes outside to wait and several hours later, comes back inside and you’re asleep in the recliner. He goes on about his business, but you made a promise and failed to keep it. See how easy it is? And yet, we do it every day.
So, how do we change what has been so easy for us? How do we begin to do what we say we are going to do? How does our yes become yes and our no become no? By realizing that every time we promise something to someone, we promise it “as unto the Lord.” Imagine every word, statement or promise as though it’s being made to God and I bet that pretty soon, you’ll be careful with the promises that you make.
And, that’s Something To Think About for this week.
Pastor Thad Gifford is the founding and lead pastor of the Crossroads Community Church, 62 E. Second St., London. He can be reached at (740) 852-7800, e-mail him at m.thad.gifford.com or at their website www.3c-church.org.