In the recent elections here in the United States, politicians made sweeping promises on many issues that will affect the nation and its people for years to come. When I observed these candidates making wide-ranging statements about changing laws to improve the country, I thought, What is their credibility? How good is their word?
Then I thought, Well, how good is mine?
As God’s people, our individual credibility should be beyond question. The world has lost the mentality of a handshake sealing the deal, of “my word is my bond.”
I remember Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who left Corregidor, the Philippines, on a dark and desperate day: March 11, 1942. The war in the Pacific was a breach arena. The Japanese were beating island by island into submission. When he was ordered to attempt a daring escape to Australia, the brilliant and bold general had only three words to say to his fellow soldiers: “I shall return.”
When he arrived in port at Adelaide, Australia, nine days later, General MacArthur stated, “I came through and I shall return.”
More than 2½ years of world war passed, but on Oct. 20, 1944, the general and the Allies had fought their way clear back to the Philippines. MacArthur waded ashore on the island of Leyte and stood once again on Philippine soil.
“This is the voice of freedom, General MacArthur, speaking,” he said. “People of the Philippines, I have returned.” In the middle of a world war, he had kept his word, his bond. Regardless of the odds against him, he made his promise good.
This rare breed of men is almost extinct today. You may have heard this recognized phenomenon described as “the credibility gap.” Something that is credible is defined as “capable of being believed, trustworthy.” This is exactly what is missing in the world around us.
What about each of us in God’s one true Church? How is our credibility with God? From time to time, our word fails to stand. From time to time, some fall away.
Jesus said, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). He also said, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26-27).
At baptism we counted the cost (verses 28-33). We said yes—we gave our word. And at baptism, we began the journey of conversion. This is a journey of overcoming, of backing God’s Work and His apostle. It is a journey in which we put ourselves on the altar of God as a living sacrifice. We gave our word to God.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2). What is your credibility with God? Do you bridge or widen the credibility gap?
Do you keep your word? Here are five situations you can test yourself in:
• When I reply, I will pray for you—do I?
• When I tell someone he can depend on me for help “no matter what”—can he?
• When I say, I will be there at 6:00—am I?
• When I obligate myself to pay a debt on time—do I?
• When I said “I do” in my marriage vows, my second-most important contract in life, do my actions today show that I remember what I covenanted to do?
• When I made my baptism covenant, does my life today keep that promise to God?
Do we review the conditions we agreed to in order to see if we are keeping our word? No one is perfect, but that is what we strive for (Matthew 5:48). Keeping our word is important for our Christian growth. We must also teach our children to keep their word.
We can all become more perfect at keeping our word. Here are six scriptures that recall the essential need to build absolute credibility with God and fellow man: Ephesians 4:25; Colossians 3:17; 1 John 3:18; Psalm 15:1-2; Ecclesiastes 5:5; Numbers 30:2.
Let’s live credibly so that our Father can say to each of us, This is a son who has credibility with me. Meditate and study—think on these things.