At church this morning, the main topic was following God’s instructions, but a sub-theme was following through on our promises. The pastor preached about Matthew 21:28-32, in which the father tells one son to work in the vineyard, and the son initially refuses but then obeys his father, whereas another son says that he will work in the vineyard but does not do so. In the children’s service, the pastor said that we should follow through on what we say we will do.
Overall, I think this is a good rule—at work, or in school, or even in church. If people are relying on me to do something that I promised, then I should do it. But I don’t absolutize following through on what I say, especially when someone is trying to shove something down my throat.
I’ll give you a couple of examples. When I was living in New York City, I was going to one of the Seventh-Day Adventist churches for a couple of weeks. I got tired of going to it because I wasn’t getting much out of it, plus I was tired of going to someone’s house for a communal meal every Sabbath—a meal that lasted until it got dark. (I like to have my afternoons to myself—for a Sabbath nap, or to watch a movie, or to read, etc.) The guy driving me home from that would ask me if he’d see me next Sabbath, and I’d say “yes” because I didn’t know how to say “no” in a diplomatic manner. I felt chained to that church, as if I had to go because I said I would. One time, I said “yes”, didn’t show up the next week, and didn’t feel one ounce of guilt about not showing up. People shouldn’t pressure others.
Then there was a Bible study group I was once in. One guy wasn’t coming, and the leader was incredulous because he’d ask the guy if he’d see him at the next Bible study meeting, and the guy answered “yes”, then the guy didn’t show up. But what did the leader expect? The guy was probably answering “yes” to get him off his back, and also so he wouldn’t have to listen to some manipulative sermon.
So I follow through when people depend on me, but not when people try to manipulate me to attend something.