God cannot tell lies! And so his promises and vows are two things that can never be changed. We have run to God for safety. Now his promises should greatly encourage us to take hold of the hope that is right in front of us.Hebrews 6:18 CEV
Love is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud, or rude. Love isn’t selfish or quick tempered. It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that others do. Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil. Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting. Love never fails! (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 CEV)
As I was putting together a message on promises for the recent wedding ceremony of Julia and Ash Martinez, I decided we all need to hear this message on love and promises, especially in February, the month of love.
The United States Post Office is well known for the promise it makes that through the worst of weather conditions, the mail will be delivered. Regardless of whether the post office fully lives up to that promise, the promise itself influences its general identity and intention. Out of love, we all make promises to one another. Especially, we make promises to the ones whom we have chosen above all others to love and to cherish – to those whom we share our world, our lives, our very beings.
Throughout our lives, we make promises. We make promises with every intention of keeping them, but sometimes we change, and promises are broken. Changes take place around us over which we have no control. Sometimes when persons experience a loving relationship in the Lord’s name, they are tested beyond their own ability to handle conflicts, responsibilities, and changes, prompting them to trust in God’s eternal promises to give them strength.
Jesus commands us to love God and to love one another. If this were a perfect world, that wouldn’t be a problem. In a perfect world, loving God and others would be easy – with all of us living joyfully together and sharing every aspect of our lives with one another. Unfortunately, we live in an imperfect world. Jesus knew that when he said those words, which is why he encourages us to rely on God’s strength and not our own when our love and promises start to faulter and fail.
Though we suffer from imperfections, we still make promises, and we still strive to fulfill those promises with God’s help. God chose to send his Son into the middle of our imperfections and at the center of our imperfect relationships. God sent his Son to show us what life can be like and to demonstrate to us what undeserved love is all about.
None of us really deserve God’s or another’s love, but God and others have chosen to give us their love. In truth, God desires only one thing from us – love. Through this love comes faith and trust. If we love God, only then can we have faith in God … only then can we trust God. Is it any different for any of us? If we love one another, our faith and trust in each other will come and will develop increasingly as the years pass. Today we make promises. Tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that, we fulfill those promises.
In 1 Corinthians 13, the apostle Paul tells us that love is kind and patient. That it is not jealous or conceited or proud; that it doesn’t keep a record of wrongdoings. Love is a powerful force, but to love in the way God intends us to love, is also a very difficult thing for imperfect beings such as us to live out. That’s why Jesus came to us – not to magically transform us into perfect beings, but to make it possible for us to live together in love, even in our imperfections.
I encourage you to read those words from 1 Corinthians 13 from time to time. Write them on a piece of paper to carry with you; put them on a Post-It note to post on the fridge or bathroom mirror; put them in a frame to hang on the wall of your home. These words will be a constant reminder of what it is you intended on the day you made promises to someone you love. They will be a reminder of the loving spirit of your promises.
Contrary to popular belief, promises aren’t made to be broken. They are made to be kept. Promises alone, however, aren’t enough. The love that caused us to make those promises is what will sustain us in our lives together. So, may we love and keep our promises to God and one another. And may we seek God’s grace, Christ’s love, and the Spirit’s strength to honor both, now and always.