WHAT IS A PROMISE?
A Promise is a Form of Language Where the Action is Postponed and the Person Making the Promise Guarantees the Union of Word and Deed.”– Reese and Shivers “On Change”
Luke 16:10 (NLT-SE) “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.
Matt. 25:23 (NLT-SE) “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities.
Luke 19:17 (NLT-SE) “And he said to him, ‘Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.’
Jesus told three different parables which included or ended in the teaching “if you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.” While we do not intend to argue for or against a definition of what is small and large from God’s perspective at this point, we do believe that the movement toward increasing future responsibility is based upon fidelity to the present day responsibilities in our life. Or in other words, promise keeping is the foundation from which to become more involved in the Kingdom movement. We simply must learn to be promise keepers if we are to be used by God.
God does not give us a command and set us free to figure it out on our own. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is the ultimate example of promise maker and a promise keeper.
Whether that be with Noah, Abraham, the nation of Israel, David, or the New Testament Church, God has shown to be trustworthy at every turn. That trustworthiness leads to a confidence that what God says will happen does happen. And confidence is the platform we build our lives upon while lack of confidence leads to personal and corporate chaos. For example, since God is trustworthy, then we can rest assured that my past sins are forgiven and they are a learning event instead of an event for shame. Or, since God is trustworthy then we know a place is being prepared for all who have faith Jesus which allows me to look at death as a doorway and not a destination.
Therefore, to be a disciple of Jesus means to be one who can be trusted by others. In order to become that person of trust, we make promises and keep them over and over for a lifetime.
Little promises. Big promises. Painless promises. Sacrificial promises. All lead to developing a character of integrity as a promise keeper and therefore someone God and the world can have confidence in.
We truly believe that a fundamental part of any discipleship process SHOULD be to develop within a person a character of promise-keeping/integrity. The discipleship process should foster growth in our ability to be responsible in small, large, public, private, easy, sacrificial, seemingly meaningless, and make or break ways.
Our chosen way to model and develop promise-keeping is through the group covenant process. This is not a management technique to make the group more effective (although it will). Nor is the group covenant process a shaming tool to make us feel bad about our failures nor is it a gold star reward for good behavior. Rather is a tool to not shame but shape and a tool not to reward behavior but reveal character being formed so we may be confident that the person is ready for increased responsibility.