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Wednesday, March 11

Don't Say You'll Pray If You WON'T!

Perhaps one of the most subtle things satan does to deceive us away from God, and from serving others with Godly integrity, is working to keep us from realizing the cost of NOT doing what we say we are going to do.  Let's take, for instance, the popular phrase, or commonly-used "sign-off", "I'll pray for you."  How many times do we hear that statement, in a "see-ya-later" kind of voice, and from someone closing a conversation with a fellow Christian brother or sister?  How many times do we make that statement ourselves, then go on about our day, week, and month, and not think about the commitment we had made, or even remember it, again?
Not long ago, Brenda and I attended a special ceremony to observe a change of leadership for a local organization we work with in ministry on occasion.  At the end of the ceremony, as we went through the receiving line, we waited to shake hands with one of the primary national directors over the local organization.  As the person ahead of us finished talking and prepared to move on down the line, he reached out his hand and closed by saying, "Sir, I'll be praying for you."  Brenda reached out, shook his hand next, and shared how grateful we were to see that he was able to be here for this special leadership transition, and added that we pray God bless him for his support.  Being that Brenda and I had been discussing the subject of what the gentleman had said ahead of us, the subject of this blog, I took the opportunity to have a little bit of fun with him, saying, "Brother, I won't say, 'I'll be praying for you' because I probably won't."  He looked at me and, I could see by the look on his face, he was briefly puzzled by my making that comment.  Within just seconds, I could see that a light went on, when, with a big smile on his face, he replied, "I'm glad, because I probably won't be praying for you either."  We both agreed that, when we hear someone telling someone else that they are going to be praying for them, the first thing we think is, "Lord, I hope with all of my heart that that person truly understands the crucial importance of not breaking a commitment or vow."
Jesus blessed us with wisdom concerning this in Luke 14:28-30, "For which of you, intending to build a tower, stitch not down first, and counts the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?  Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish."  Though we are not talking about the construction of a tower, we are discussing the crucial importance of making sure, before we ever commit to praying for someone, that we have taken the time to learn about the needs of that particular person so we are able to pray for them effectively.  Remember, good intentions will never make up for failure to follow through with our verbal commitment to others.
When we tell God or anyone else that we are going to do something, and then turn around and not fulfill that commitment, we not only inflict pain on the one we committed to, but we reveal the lack of integrity operating in our lives.  To any of the people who heard you commit, and then observe your subsequent failure to honor that commitment, it does not matter what your intentions were.  The result is the same as if you had deliberately misled them.
It is easy to say to someone that we are going to pray for them.  That person doesn't know one way or the other if we actually do what we promised them, or not.  On the other hand, however, God does know, ... every vow we make.
When Jesus teaches us of the crucial importance of counting the cost of whatever we commit to doing, He teaches us that it is vital that we calculate whether or not we can keep the vow, and do so before we have made the vow.  Why?  It is because, in the eyes of Jesus Christ, whatever we have done "even to the least of His brethren," whether we have kept our word or not, we have done it to Him, personally!  This is what we must be aware of, and ask The Lord to help us remember always, as Jesus says in Matthew 25:40, "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."  A person who says one thing and does another is a detriment to God and to everyone around them!
It boils down to this: If you are going to tell someone that you will do something, you had better think it through very carefully before you make the commitment.  A broken vow is an offense that carries a very stiff sentence in the eyes of God.  Do not be deceived by the use of the word “vow".  This can be something as simple as our telling someone that we are going to pray for them, but we do not—or our telling someone that we will call, stop by, or do something else for them, then we do not.  This especially includes honoring our words concerning punctuality.  When we say we are going to be at a certain place at a certain time, we need to keep the commitment to the T (as in Time).  If we find we will not make it at the time we committed to, at the very least, we should let the others know as soon as we can.  Even our worship depends upon this.  “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him.  God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24)
There is no way around it.  Integrity must be the hallmark of our lives, in order for us to effectively model ourselves after God, and to verbally represent the Word of God to people!  We must speak the truth and live the truth.  Do not say you are going to do something, and then not follow through.  Whenever a person says one thing but does another, it is lying and will be judged as such.  Listen to the warning Jesus gives us concerning vows that are made in passing, “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.  For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37)  We must make sure our yea means yea and our nay means nay.
We pray that this message encourages you, and reminds you to S-T-O-P and COUNT THE COST of what you say and how you follow through.  Make sure to ask yourself daily, "Have I made an account of prayers I've committed to today, and am I making sure I really mean whatever it is that I say?
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Find many more messages based on real-life matters, like this one, in our published book called, "THE CRISIS OF ERODING INTEGRITY."  For more information or to place large-quantity orders, visit us online at the Toward The Mark website today.

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In Christ Jesus,

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