A promise by definition is a declaration that something will or will not be done in the future. When a promise is made, there is an implication that the words spoken hold one accountable to whatever they have said they will do. They are often made regarding something that may not happen if a promise was not made, and often when humans make them, they can be broken.
The word promise does not always have to be used to make a promise. All one has to do is say that they WILL do something, and that is technically a promise. The spoken word should be good enough, but to make it more binding we have added bits on such as writing it down, making an oath, or saying it in front of witnesses.
Following through on promises are often difficult. They often require us to make an effort because it is hard to do what we have promised or because it is for the benefit of someone else, not ourselves. Usually a promise involves a commitment to something in the future and may require more effort than we had imagined when we made it. However, it is really important to keep promises as they can make or destroy relationships since broken promises destroy trust.
Sometimes promises come with strings attached. The promise will be kept if certain conditions occur or if the other party also keeps their part of the promise. These kind of promises are often necessary for the good and health of both parties. Promises are often much more effective when they are clear and specific and everyone knows exactly what has been promised.
Promises are really an important part of building relationships. They connect people together and build trust in one another. Although broken promises can have the opposite effect, efforts made to understand why a promise was broken and to reconcile can once again help to build trust accepting that none of us are always able to live the way we would like to.
This is the reason that God made so many promises in the Bible, because relationships are built on promises. The Bible gives us a record of God keeping His promises. Some of His promises were conditional on the people’s response – and the promise being kept brought suffering instead of blessing – but ultimately God’s promises are all intended to bring life.
When God created humans with freewill, He had a plan that would shape that will to His, not through force but voluntarily through faith (a belief that God’s ways are good, life-giving and life-affirming). Faith is built on trust, on promises being kept and the story of the Bible shows the progress of those promises and their fulfilment, so that we know we can trust God.
God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
Numbers 23:19 ESV
Has God kept all His promises? Not yet.
And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 11:39-12:2 ESV
Do you want to know more about the promises that God has made that involve you? You can watch our video series on The Promises here: The Promises.