I remember when my little one was young, I would not promise him anything before I was sure that I could meet his request. I envisioned the worst-case scenario, where he would look at me with teary eyes and say, “… But, Mum, you promised!”
This is probably because I had a dad who used the word ‘promise’ often: he would ask, “Have I ever let you down?” after I insisted on him saying, “I promise!” as I sought him to guarantee his word. I attended boarding school all my teenage life. I grew a strong distaste for it, and I missed home too much. But my dad promised he would visit every month, and he did. He was my first teacher of what keeping your word means. I, therefore, hold my dad very highly.
“A promise is a credit” is a phrase I grew up hearing. I used to hear adults often shout out, “A promise is a credit!” as they made deals and did transactions with each other. In the worldly sense, this means that a person who makes a promise now owes or is indebted to the person to whom he makes his promise. It is the expectation that he really means what he is saying. And if he does break the promise for whatever reason, he will have raised the other person’s hopes for nothing, only to disappoint them.
In the Bible, the word ‘promise’ is found in 34 verses, 14 chapters and 13 books, and offers the perfect demonstration, or rather meaning or perspective, of what a promise encompasses. But the one that stands out and shows the true nature of a promise for me today, is found in Hebrews 6:13 (NIV): “For when God made promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself.” So, what was this promise that God made to Abraham? In Genesis 12:2-3 (NIV), God says, “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
The Bible, in fact, speaks about many promises of God to Abraham; one of these came after the catalyst of Abraham obeying God by demonstrating a willingness to offer up his own son, Isaac. God swore by Himself that through the son he almost sacrificed, He would make Abraham’s descendants more numerous than the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. And he prefaced that oath by saying, “By Myself I have sworn.” We find this in Genesis 22:15-17.
God himself is great, sovereign, and Almighty. His very nature does not allow Him to lie; He cannot lie. And because of His very nature, which is all perfect, when He makes a promise, there is no other character to match it by, except His – unlike me, in my human sense, because I measure keeping my word by my dad’s standards.
Because of our human, sinful nature, it is impossible to swear by ourselves. We tend to swear by someone greater than us; therefore, God could only swear by Himself, which in that case, seals the deal. That’s why we swear on the Bible in a court of law: “…nothing but the truth, so help me God,” because that’s our highest point of reference.
What brings or gives Christians their confidence is that God demonstrated two factors that are important in a promise. He shows His unchangeable character, which is what guarantees the promise, and is something that no human can offer. God goes beyond just His word to guarantee His promise – both His character and nature are also references to solidify His case. Another characteristic of God is that He cannot lie. Again, His very nature does not allow Him; it’s literally impossible. We are reminded of this characteristic of God in Numbers 23:19 (NIV): “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that, that he should change his mind. Does he speak, and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?
Quite rightly, we ask if the promise of Abraham still applies. And the answer to that is yes. All Christians are beneficiaries of it. God has kept His word for generations. Today, it is understood that Jesus Christ is the fulfilment of God’s promise to bless all families of the earth through Abraham. The opportunity to receive salvation comes through the spiritual part of God’s promise to Abraham and will remain until His return.
A point of reflection for us as Christ’s followers is to be more like our Creator. Despite never being able to reach the standard of swearing by ourselves, our character, nature and word should consistently be so noble that people know that when we speak, we will not let them down. They should say, “I know this person; they are true – not just in word, but their character is unchanging and reliable.”
Studying these passages has challenged me. I only thought we are to be people who keep their word when we make a promise. But by studying these passages and how God made His promise to Abraham, it was not just His word, but His very nature and character that spoke out as loudly and strongly as His word did. May we be in continuous pursuit of such excellence. May we be known for our genuine nature, character and word. May those we encounter, who cross our paths and enter relationship with us, get to experience the very nature of God, having met and done life with us. That is my prayer today. Amen.
Women of Reverence welcomes our guest contributor Mabble Munyimani
Mabble is a mum to 3 boys and wife to loving husband, Martin.
When her first child was younger and was starting out in school, Mabble found that she needed more parenting solutions that would help her. She was after something not just different, but also a method that would help her bring out the best in what her children had within themselves, without feeling like there is something wrong with them or that they needed fixing.
Mabble was after a parenting style that would empower her children and leave her, the mum feeling empowered, happy and confident with her abilities as a parent. And when she couldn’t find it, she and her husband went onto create and design the environment that suited their children, rather than make their children fit into environments that devalues and suppresses their natural abilities and flare.
Mabble believes children are born with everything they need for life. She is a firm subscriber of the Bible verse, 2 Peter 1;3 By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. And Romans 11:29, For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
Mabble believes uncovering and nurturing our children’s natural gifts is one of the parental responsibilities. We are to empower our children and collaborate with them along with the relevant people to develop these gifts. Children cannot achieve it alone.
Mabble has trained in the mental health field and has worked as a qualified mental health nurse with for over 15 years. She worked with families and children who experience life challenges in school, in the home and in various stages of development. Through her experience, she has identified that lack of expression and understanding of the child’s strengths and abilities, largely contributes to some children’s frustrations. This can be a contributory factor to some mental illnesses e.g. anxiety and depression.
Having lived in 3 continents, born in Zimbabwe Africa, studied, and lived in the UK for 12 years and now living in Australia, Mabble has acquired insights, experience and exposure to different cultures and has developed an understanding that allows her to empathise with the families she works with.
She is on a mission to activate the superpowers of all family members to achieve the family dream! And she does this by supporting parents on how to bring the joy back into parenting.
Now a family strategist, Mabble specialises in strength based learning providing a holistic approach to learning. Prioritising the learning style/preference of the child and their areas of interest to maximise learning and engagement is her recipe. She teaches and empowers parents to provide environments that promote wellbeing and build confidence, resilience, self identity and life skills in children so that child does not just survive in life, but thrive.