Only the Promise of Love
What do we do when people break a promise? You trusted in someone to help you with something you’re suffering from, and it turns into an empty promise. You trusted him, and suddenly, it becomes a big problem.
Can I address that?
When our lives are totally intertwined then there’s not going to be “a big promise thing” going on. First of all, if we didn’t share any financial resources with the saints in Africa at all would things change all that much? Could we still have a relationship around Jesus or is it dependent on money? Hopefully it’s dependent on Truth. The word of God—the manna from Heaven—is far more important than any other thing. So if we have our perspective right, then the money is a gift; you brothers have as much right to eat as we do. That’s the way we see it and that is why we send money to help you all with food and other needs. We don’t have any more right to eat food and have a good meal and have some place to sleep than you do. It’s the same Jesus—so we try to sacrifice and do what we can to make sure that you have what you need because we love you. But our relationship doesn’t depend on giving or receiving money.
We’re not promising you anything except Love—the continuing debt to love one another. Our debt to you is to love you. If there happens to be some resources that we can share then that’s okay. It’s a good thing, but it doesn’t define our relationship, I hope. If it does, then we don’t have a relationship.
If you became poorer than you are now and your wife said, “I don’t need you anymore.” You’d say, “Well, we didn’t really have much love between us, did we? If it was based on how much money we have then you didn’t even love me.” So that’s true with what you said too. If somebody tries to make a promise to me, do you know what I’m going to tell them? Don’t promise me anything because I don’t want our relationship to be harmed in case it doesn’t work out.
There are times that I wouldn’t even promise my children anything when they were small. They’d say, “Daddy can we go some place or do something?” And I’d say, “We’ll see, because the Lord might have us go a whole different direction. I just don’t know yet. Let’s wait until the time comes. Here’s my promise to you: I want to be able to do this with you because it would mean something to you if we could.” My heart promise is my promise. But I can’t promise you I’m going to be here or there a year from now. James forbids that, by the Holy Spirit. I can’t tell you what I’m going to do, and I want my yes to be yes, and my no to be no.
So I’m not going to make a bunch of promises, and nobody else ought to be making promises, because it’s setting people up to stumble in case the dynamic changes. I don’t want anybody promising me anything and I’m not going to make anybody else any promises either.
If there are seven men full of the Holy Spirit and full of wisdom that are making the decisions there is no one person to blame is there? I might not even know all seven of you. Let’s say I have nothing and I’m hungry and there are seven men full of the Holy Spirit and full of wisdom that are making some decisions about finances. “So they laid the money at the apostles’ feet and it was given to anyone as they had need.” We don’t know what happens to the money after it is given. And I don’t know what’s fair and not fair. That’s not our call. We shouldn’t even try to decide such things from afar. As a brother was saying, some of it is a respect for authority.
The centurion had the greatest faith in all of Israel because he said what James just said, “I respect authority.” I respect the authority that you brothers have because you have relationships. You have people that look up to you. You have people that need you and I respect that. In some ways we are under your authority here and we’re glad to be. Hopefully we are a help to you and perhaps we have some authority as well, but it doesn’t have anything to do with money. It has to do with relationship with Father and wisdom from Heaven. And we feed each other and help each other. We encourage and even challenge each other at times. That’s okay. That’s part of family life, but it doesn’t have to do with money.
We’re not promising you money. You’re not promising money to anyone. That would be ridiculously petty and small. We’re not making promises to each other in the family of God in the churches. It’s not about promises of money. It’s about promises of love and love is bigger than money because I’ll give you what I have if I love you enough.
I notice the sisters tend to take a little bit lower position than the brothers do when they’re greeting someone. I’m not so sure that’s necessary, because they are co-heirs in Christ and I should show honor to them as much as they should to me.
If seven good men full of the Holy Spirit and full of wisdom are transparent with one another and with the Body of Christ, then I think there will be more wisdom to allocate resources than any one or two people can have. But there is also something of a trust. I love them and I know they have my best interest in mind. Perhaps with a person that I’m not close to, I might be tempted to judge him. But I KNOW they would never do anything to hurt me.
I definitely appreciate what you’re saying because there could be a lot of heartache and broken promises in your dealings together regarding finances. But that’s mostly from lack of wisdom. Maybe the promises shouldn’t have been made in the first place between each other. Maybe more people should have been involved so that there’s more trust spread around among the brothers and sisters.
There’s wisdom in this, I believe. We can begin to push out and rebuild trust. Trust has been betrayed between many here in Africa amongst yourselves. Let’s not mistake that. Let’s not minimize that. I have compassion on the people whose trust has been betrayed and so now they’re a little bit afraid. I understand that, but we’ve got to be bigger than that.
And repent and change. Find a new way, a new road to walk on and beg each other’s forgiveness. The promise-breakers need to give a sincere apology to those who have felt slighted. A kind word turns away wrath, right? That’s what the scriptures say. Part of our problem is that there has been a build-up of pressure and a build-up of a sense of betrayal. Things like a simple embrace, an honest apology, and a face-to-face discussion about these things can dissipate tension and betrayal. You can ask me anything you want to ask me to my face, and I’ll tell you the truth about what I did wrong. And in keeping with repentance, I’ll tell you the truth about what I’m going to do next.
If someone has been so angry for so long, sometimes all it takes is two minutes to just let the poison run out. When you get a little cut and it starts to get infected, lance it, poke a hole in it, and let the poison run out so the whole body can become healthy again. Perhaps there’s some personal attention, some face-to-face apologies that need to be made in order to start the process of rebuilding trust. Do you think that would help?
Yes, that would really help.