A Gentleman's Word
Originally scheduled for August 19
Some of you will find this surprising. A writer
was once gathering information for a book on the American banking
system. He interviewed the president of a bank in a community which
was primarily Amish. He asked this man what his default rate was;
that is to say, what percentage of his loans were never paid back.
He replied simply, "none."
The writer was absolutely astonished. It was
incredible to him the bank could have that record; so he asked him a
second time, "do you mean to tell me you've never had a problem with
a loan?" The banker thought for a minute and replied: "Well, my
father did once. But he went out and talked to the boy's father and
they straightened it out."
Those of an older generation will remember
being instructed with the phrase: "Your word is your bond." My
father made it clear to me that I was expected to keep my word in
all circumstances at all times. If I failed to do so, he would
consider it a disgrace to the family as well as to me. He encouraged
me to come to him for help if I needed it to keep my word. There it
is; your word is your bond and your family backs you up.
May I ask you to consider God's promises in the
same light? In particular, he has made four promises of supreme
He promised to send his son to us
(Psalm 2:7). He fulfilled this when Christ was born.
He promised that our Messiah would
bear our sins, which we cannot bear ourselves (Isaiah 53:11). He did
this at the Cross, our atonement.
He promised that Christ would rise
from the grave untouched (Psalm 16:9-10). This was fulfilled that
that first Easter morning, at the empty tomb.
He has promised that he will swallow
up death in victory (Isaiah 25:8) — and this will be fulfilled when
Christ returns and all of us rise from the dead.
The word of God is trustworthy. Indeed, when
God takes a solemn oath he swears by himself for there is no one
higher. The first three of these promises have already been
fulfilled and we have his word that the fourth one is coming (soon,
please Lord, soon). When we partake of Communion we are to remember
that he sent his son to us, to bear our sins on the Cross, and that
he rose from the grave. But we are also to remember that he is
coming again to judge the living and the dead. It is therefore
fitting that we should examine ourselves as we partake, repenting of
those things we find repugnant. We do this in memory of him; we also
do it in anticipation of his return.