Children make promises to their parents: "I won't ever do that again." And parents make promises to their children: "Yes, I'll get you what you asked for." Husbands, wives, and lovers also make promises to each other: "I will love you forever." Even prisoners make promises: "I intend to go straight."
Two things that many of these promises have in common are:
- They conclude with words that show sincerity, like "Cross my heart," and many of them are broken.
- So why, in spite of good intentions, are our words broken? And what can you do to keep from breaking your word?
Promises are commitments. Children make promises to obey their parents. Parents make promises to look after their children. Husbands and wives commit themselves to be with each other for a lifetime. Prisoners commit themselves to obey the law. All these commitments are promises, and people make them assure others that the things they commit themselves to are things they want to do.
Promises come from people's hearts. People make promises because in their hearts they desire to do something. That is why many say, "Cross my heart." Their hearts propel them to make promises because of their deep feelings and desires to be acceptable and pleasing to others. And when they believe they can fulfill those feelings and desires, they speak them or put them in writing as promises. But promises are broken because people do not have the ability to keep the commitments they make. Simply stated, the heart cannot keep its promises.
Children, parents, lovers, and prisoners do not have the capacity to keep all their commitments because, as the scriptures say, "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it"? (Jeremiah 17:9). But what can you do to keep your promises? First, you just realize that you do not have the strength within your own heart to keep all the promises you make. Second, you must acknowledge that you need help to do all the things that you promise. Third, you must realize that your help cannot come from other human beings because their hearts are the same as yours.
Therefore, you must turn to the one and only person who can help you to keep your promises. And you must say in your heart, "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13) Christ strengthens the hearts of people so they can keep their promises. He strengthens the hearts of children because "to such belongs the kingdom of God" (Luke 18:16).
Christ strengthens the hearts of parents because they must "train up children in the way they should go" (Proverbs 22:6). He strengthens the hearts of lovers because "God is love" (1 John 4:8). And Christ strengthens the hearts of prisoners because he came "to proclaim release to the captives" (Luke4:18)
Therefore, your promises will no longer be broken if Christ is strengthening your heart to keep them!