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No More Promises

Dr. James Fowler

I made a promise – both to God and to myself. I promised myself that I would not make any more promises to God. You see, I have made many promises to God over the years. I have promised NOT TO DO this or that; not to sin in a certain manner, not to have pride about what I have done. I have made promises TO DO this or that; to spend more time in fellowship with Christian brethren, to be more loving towards my wife. But I must confess that my track record on keeping promises is abysmal. Is that what Paul meant when he wrote, “The good that I would, I do not do; and the good that I would not, that I do” (Rom. 7:19)?

Solomon in his wisdom wrote, “It is better to not vow, than to vow and not pay” (Eccl. 5:5). Based on such wise advice, I have made a promise to make no more promises to God. Yet, I know that this might create a vicious cycle of continued failure. I have a sneaking suspicion that I will not be any more successful in keeping my promise to make no more promises to God than I have been with my promise-keeping in the past. I am admittedly a fickle and fallible specimen of humanity. My good intentions far outrun the consistency of my follow-through. “Woe is me; I am a man of unclean lips” (Isa. 6:5), with no integrity.

My only feasible recourse is to throw myself upon God’s grace, and to recognize that any good that I might manifest must derive from the inherent and intrinsic goodness of God’s character. “Not that I am adequate to consider anything as coming from myself (my own ability to keep my promises), but my adequacy is derived from God (His grace to effect anything and everything He desires to be and do in me)” (II Cor. 3:5). The issue is not what I promise to do or not do, but what God wants to do and not do in and through me that is of any lasting consequence in my human life. So, I am not making any promises to God disguised as “new year’s resolutions” as I begin this, another year.


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