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We trust people who keep their word. We can do business with them. If a kitchen remodel is needed, we make sure to hire someone reliable, someone who does what they have guaranteed in their contract. We don’t want the worker to leave the job site with the sink sitting on the floor, never to return. Such betrayal angers us; surprises us. I guess we shouldn’t be shocked. We have trouble keeping our own promises.

The account in Genesis 15:1-21 about God making covenant with Abraham, His promise to give him and his offspring the land, is deep and lovely. The Lord wanted to prove to Abraham that He would keep this promise when he asked, “O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” (Genesis 15:8).1 The covenant was enacted according to the cultural mores of the time. The covenant-makers would cut animals in two and walk between them, as if to say, “May this happen me if I do not keep my part of the covenant.” However, when God and Abraham made their covenant, Abraham didn’t walk between the sacrificed animals. Only the Lord did. Abraham actually fell asleep—the perfect metaphor for us. We may as well be asleep concerning our need to keep our commitments to God. We Christians try but are simply unable to do so.

One example of our inability to be faithful to a promise are the vows exchanged when we are married. We swear before our future spouse, the ones gathered, and God, that we will love, honor, cherish, and remain faithful to him or her alone. All husbands and wives have failed to keep these promises. What does it mean when the spouse says, “Honey, I will always love you.”? It’s a sad truth, but I say and do things in my marriage that are quite unlike the acts of someone who cherishes another. I’m not sure how long it took for me to fail to keep my word, as sincere as I was when I spoke it. A few hours after our marriage? A few days? “Always” didn’t last very long.

So, a question. When God makes promises, does He keep them?

This is but one example, but it is huge. He promised a Savior and Redeemer thousands of years before Jesus arrived. He’s the only one who is able to do such things.

This is His promise to love us, which He will always keep:

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22–23).

God’s love never ceases. That means after we sin. His mercies are inexhaustible; they will never, ever end. Have you ever sinned since you’ve been a Christian? Of course, you have. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). I don’t know about you, but when I sin, I don’t feel good about myself, and I especially don’t feel good before God when I pray. I’m unhappy that I’ve let the Father down—again. What is wrong with me? How can the Lord possibly love someone who did that again? This is when I say back to the Lord what He already knows. His love is steadfast and never ceases. His mercy never ends. I take comfort in this parable that Jesus taught:

“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:10–14).

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

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