Stu Weber in his book “The heart of the tender warrior” observes that a man’s greatest strength is “staying power.” This is particularly seen in men being able to make promises and then keeping them. He quotes Lewis Smedes, “When a man make a promise, he creates an island of certainty in a heaving ocean of uncertainty….when you make a promise you have created a small sanctuary of trust within the jungle of unpredictability.” Those words have stuck with me, I suppose, because I grew up in a home where my dad was not good at keeping his promises. I have many memories of disappointment. As a result, I was motivated to be a “promise keeper.”
I’ve learned that to be consistent as a promise keeper, I needed to keep VIM in mind. VIM is an acronym from Dallas Willard standing for Vision, Intention and Mission. Trust in Jesus’ unconditional love for me (vision), has helped me to be a more faithful promise keeper (intention) in doing what Jesus called me to do (mission). Remember the large “Promise Keeper” rallies. I attended two in the old Metrodome in the Twin Cities with over 60,oo0 men. It was quite a movement. I wonder what happened to all those promise keepers and their promises, especially in regards to their families? Have they learned to trust Jesus in keeping promises? “Perhaps the hardest thing for sincere Christians to come to grips with is the level of real unbelief in there own lives” (Willard).
Peter was a committed promise keeper who failed his Lord. This was not his intention. Peter’s promised early on to be faithful. “Master, to whom would we go? You have the words of real life, eternal life. We’ve already committed ourselves, confident that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-69 – Message). Later he confessed openly before the other disciples, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God” (Matt 16:16). Then in Jesus’ last hours, Peter declares “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will” (Matt 26:33). But Jesus knew he would fail to keep his promises (Matt 26:35).
Peter thought he could be faithful in his promises. His intentions were right, but in his denial of Jesus he failed miserably. Jesus had warned of a spiritual crisis. He told Peter and the others that “Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat,” implying they could be tested regarding their intentions. The intention of the heart is the key to keeping our promises. “If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me” (Matt 10: 38-39 – Message). Through Perer’s sifting he came to a deeper trust in Jesus.
Jesus reminded Peter, “I’ve prayed for you in particular that you not give in or give out. When you have come through the time of testing, turn to our companions and give them a fresh start” Luke 22:32 – Message). Men, if you have been inconsistent in your intention to follow Jesus, and have failed as a promise keeper, take heart from these words to Peter. Peter denied his Lord, because he didn’t fully trust Jesus. Through his failure, Peter came to a greater awareness of Jesus’ unconditional love for him. With this awareness planted in his heart, he became a faithful promise keeper. Men, allow your inconsistency to draw you to Jesus, allowing him the change your heart. Promise keeping, begins on the inside, with a changed heart.