Down through the seven decades of my life I have discovered an entity that has, unfortunately, a diminishing value. And, it’s something far more valuable than stock in SEARS! You see, the most important thing in our society that is diminishing in value is a man’s word.
I guess this is, perhaps, most obvious in the political arena, but it certainly isn’t limited to there. The standing joke would be a Used Car Salesman, I suppose, but a lot of people involved in Sales present themselves in such a manner that we realize that we can’t place much value in their word. In fact, in virtually every realm of endeavor a man’s word has little value. Have you ever taken the time to stop and wonder why?
Well, I have, and the answer I came up with is NOT one that you are going to be happy with. You see, the reason no one has to keep their word is because, as a society, we don’t demand, or even expect it, anymore. This is NOT a recent phenomena, but it does seem to keep self- perpetuating, making the situation worse and worse. Let me share with you the day I learned how little society expected a man to keep his word.
In October of 1981, my son, Matthew, was born. As I was getting ready to take him and his mother home, I was advised that we would be ready to go as soon as I took care of the paperwork. It seems that my share of the bill, after insurance payments, would be $600.00. So, off to the Administration Office I tromped. I had already explained that I would need to take advantage of their “Payment Plan,” so it was just a matter of signing the paperwork.
Chris and I had already discussed this and agreed that we could afford fifty dollars a month, based on our income at that time. That thought in mind, I sat down and read the paperwork. They had made the proper arrangements as we had discussed, but when I got to the line that reflected the monthly amount due, they had neatly typed in, “$100.00 per Month.” At this point, the following conversation took place:
Me: I’m sorry, but I can’t afford to pay a hundred dollars a month.
Them: What do you mean?
Me: Well, my wife and I discussed it and we are only going to be able to pay fifty dollars a month.
Them: Well, if that’s all you can pay that’s all you can pay. Just go ahead and sign the contract and we’ll be done.
Me: I can’t. I mean, it’s stating that a hundred dollars a month is due, and I know I can’t pay that much.
Them: Oh, that’s okay. Just sign it and then send us what you can.
Me: (More than a little bit perplexed): No, I’m NOT going to agree to something I know I can’t fulfill. You will need to type up a new contract stipulating that the monthly amount due is fifty dollars, and THEN I’ll sign and we’ll be done.
Them: (resignedly): Wait here, I’ll be back in a few minutes.
I REALLY don’t believe that had I signed the document that they would have taken me to court the first time I only sent them fifty dollars. What I DO believe is that the vast majority of the people they dealt with in regard to their payment plan who couldn’t make the pre-determined payment amount went ahead and signed the contract anyway, and then either paid less or didn’t even pay at all. As a result, their expectations had become so low that they actually ENCOURAGED people to put their “word” in jeopardy, not expecting anyone to do what would be necessary to preserve it. And, that was thirty-eight years ago!
Be not dismayed, my friend, for I have GOOD NEWS for you. You see, as Christians, while we may be IN the world we are not OF the world. And, Much like HEBREW NATIONAL FRANKS, we have to answer to a higher authority, and, therefore, keeping our word is not just a matter of honor, but of obedience. We are told in Matthew 5:37, But let your ‘Yea’ be ‘Yea,’ and your ‘Nay,’ be ‘Nay.’ As you can see, it is OUR responsibility to make sure that each of us are a person of our word, so that the world will know that we fulfill II Peter 2:9, But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light; I think you’ll agree that, in this day and age, there is no one more “peculiar” than a man of his word!