I was reading Proverbs 19 the other day and verse 22 jumped out to me…“A man is charming when he displays tender mercies to others. And a lover of God who is poor and promises nothing is better than a rich liar who never keeps his promises.”
This was one of those times when the Spirit starts speaking and it seems like you go down many trails of thought as He shares the truth. “To be poor and promise nothing…”It’s not that God wants us to be poor! That’s not what it’s saying at all. Promising things to others but not following through is not pleasing to God. Displaying “tender mercies” to others does not mean we make lots of promises we can’t keep. Actually being merciful means to do what’s best for the other person.
A lot of times we feel a certain pressure to be a “good Christian” in front of others. When we’re in a situation that might become stressful, we tend to put on a smile and try to say all the right things, but inside we may feel differently than what we are saying. The word “hypocrite” defines what the Lord was telling me. It’s hard to see ourselves as thinking one way but acting another way. We all have blind spots! I kept thinking about “not promising” as the Spirit corrected some of my own thought processes. I concluded that many times we, as believers, make little promises…like, “I’ll be praying for you” or, “I’ll help you with that sometime,” or, “I’ll call you and we’ll do lunch.” Those little promises can add up. We promise things out of fear of rejection, fear of not being a perfect Christian, fear of what God will think, fear of letting anyone down, etc. We think we’re “displaying tender mercies” to others when we say these types of things, but in reality, sometimes we’re just being a fake. Of course, if you really desire to pray, get together or help someone that’s great! I wasn’t saying we shouldn’t say those things, just that the Lord wants us to mean what we say. Jesus said in Matthew 5:37, “Let your Yes be simply Yes, and your No be simply No; anything more than that comes from the evil one.”
Psalm 40:6 says, “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire.” God doesn’t want us pretending we’re all cleaned up when we aren’t. In fact, the only cleaning up is when we believe that Jesus has cleansed us from our sin on the cross! That cleansing is His work in us, not anything we do ourselves. He doesn’t want or need our sacrificial work. Psalm 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” He wants our honesty rather than our attempts to look holy. He is not impressed with our promises to Him or other people.
Be yourself before Him and before others. That doesn’t mean we have a license to be mean or tell everyone exactly what we’re thinking all the time. Prudence and wisdom are needed to deal with people in this life. Sometimes not saying anything is the wisest thing to say and it is a tender mercy to someone else. Let us truly get rid of all the junk we tend to show in front of others and be sincere and real with them. Let’s give up trying to do God’s job for Him. Let God be the one making promises to others! God is always faithful to His promises – so rest in His ability to help others.