"Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths" (Matthew 5:33).
"But you promised," whimpered my ten-year-old daughter. "You said we could go swimming today if we finished all our schoolwork." Although the words were softly spoken, they echoed in my ears as she left the room.
"Only a little disappointment," I justified to myself. "She'll get over it." Little did I know this broken promise also broke my daughter's faith in her mother's word.
While teaching and supervising our children's studies at home, we sometimes make promises we don't keep. Each day, we may attempt to motivate or discipline with words we don't really mean. Unfortunately, unkept promises disillusion our children, and unmeant threats instill fear and doubt. Not following through on phrases like "If you work hard on your math, I'll give you…" or "When your father gets home, he's going to…" leaves children wondering if they can trust their parent's word. So, what can we do as parents of distance learning students to guard our mouths from these foolish utterances?
God's Word says, "But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation" (James 5:12). God says not to make promises or threats with your words, especially when you have no intention of keeping them. Your children need to know that you mean what you say. Before you speak idle words again today, stop and consider the price – the broken heart of your child. "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment" (Matthew 12:36).
Lord, forgive me when I say things to get a quick fix to a problem at home with my children. Help me weigh my words and remember to honor all of my commitments, no matter how small. In Your Son's name, Amen.