Thursday, January 31, 2013

When Your Mouth Gets Your Butt in Trouble

When Your Mouth Gets Your Butt in Trouble


And the king was exceedingly sorry; yet, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he did not want to refuse her.” – Mark 6:26

When my daughter Gabby was little she would often ask for things she would see in TV commercials.  For nearly every toy commercial on a Saturday mornings I would hear “Mom, can I have that?” and answer a quick “OK!”  I would give “OK” as an answer knowing that five minutes later she wouldn’t remember asking for the pet monkey or whatever it was she had just seen on TV.  But she caught on to my quick answers.  She started following my answer with and outstretched little finger and “Pinky promise?”
Oh, the dreaded pinky promise!  When pinkies lock in a sacred oath of life, you must forego all retreat from your given answer!  Your words are written in stone!  You can’t break a pinky promise!  The outcome is wailing and sobbing, and cries of “But….you pinky promised!” from a broken heart that no longer believes your word!  I quickly learned after one too many broken pinky promises and sobs to stop making promises. 

In Matthew 5:33-37 Jesus taught that we shouldn’t make promises to each other, but just keep our word.  He said not to swear by anything on earth, in Heaven, or on your own head [life], but “let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” Anything more than ‘yes’ or ‘no’ gives Satan, the evil one, an opportunity to use your mouth to get your butt in trouble.  The easiest way to dent your character is to break your promise.  You become instantly untrustworthy.  But if you simply give a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, and mean what you say, you keep yourself from trouble.
In Mark 6:14-29 we are told of how King Herod allowed his words to become his enemy and even bind his actions against what he knew to be right.  Herod thought highly of John the Baptist, and knew he was a holy man, and “when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.”(Mark 6:20).  But when John preached that it was not right of Herod to marry his brother Philip’s wife, Herodias, his wife, got angry.  In fact, she became murderously angry and wanted to kill John!  So to save John from his wife, and to appease her, Herod put John in prison. 

That could have been the end of the story.  John could have stayed in prison till he died, or Herod released him after Herodias’ anger subsided.  But Herod let his own words write the rest of the story. 
It was Herod’s birthday and he was having a fine time.  Eating and drinking and having a good time, Herodias’ daughter came to dance for the King.  Oh, he could have simply said “Thank you”.  He could have given her gold or silver, or some other thing to show his appreciation.  But no!  Herod made an oath.  He promised her “Ask me whatever you want, and I will give it to you.” And if that wasn’t enough, he swears to her in front of all who are there, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half my kingdom.” 

“Up to half my kingdom” was the rights of her mother Herodias as the queen, and the young girl seems to have recognized that.  So she went to her mother and asked “What shall I ask?  Oh, Herodias’ evil heart was still enraged at John, and saw this as a way to get exactly what she wanted!  She sent her daughter back to the king saying “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”
He didn’t want to do it.  He had great respect for John the Baptist.  He knew John was a holy man.  But as we are told in Mark 6:26 “yet, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he did not want to refuse her.”  He sent the executioner, had John beheaded, and his head brought to the girl who gave it to her mother, Herodias.  From the simple desire to reward a girl for dancing at his birthday party, Herod’s words caused him to become the murderer of John the Baptist.  His words trapped him into doing things his heart never wanted to do. 

Many things can happen that cause you to break your promise.  Plans change, circumstances change, even the ability to keep the promise changes.  And when we break a promise the first thing we say is, “I’ll make it up to you” which is nothing more than another opportunity to disappoint.  We often hear “Don’t make promises you can’t keep.” But the truth is we don’t know the future so we don’t know if we can keep any of them.  Guard your words, and mean what you say.  Don’t make promises.  They are traps that lead to dishonesty.

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