We’re raising our boys in days of viral-sized promises. Slick marketing entices boys to accept digitally-mastered objects as genuine. It’s not easy to discern between special effects and promises we can believe. Does your boy know the power of a promise? Life today is presented with a spin.
How do we teach boys to be men of their word when truth is a campaign by professional spin doctors? The cheaper the truth of the world, the more valuable the treasure of our word.
Jephthah was a mighty warrior from broken beginnings. The son of a prostitute, he was driven out of his father’s house by legitimate sons and left without an inheritance. It’s no wonder he ran away and became a magnet for “worthless fellows.” It was a gang of biblical proportions.
His life took a better turn when leaders of the land begged, “Come and be our leader,” to fight the enemies. Jephthah reminded them of their rejection when he was needy, but he still agreed to take the leader’s mantle. Perhaps he could not resist the acceptance he longed to receive. “The Spirit of the Lord was upon Jephthah,” (Judges 11:29) even though he wasn’t chosen by God like leaders had been before him. His appointment was the result of a marketing campaign.
Though illegitimate Jephthah, a magnet for marauders and a sucker for acceptance, chose a better path, he became careless. In a moment of impulsiveness or pride or perhaps both, he promised God, “If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the LORD’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering,” (Judges 11:20-31).
Jepthah led his people out and struck their enemies, never expecting that when he returned in victory, it would be his only child, his daughter, who would first step through his doorway in celebration. She would be the fulfillment of his careless vow. Truth is spoken when God’s Spirit steers the heart and moves the tongue.
Where did Jephthah’s pride begin?
When he decided he would run away?
When “worthless fellows” found him?
When men begged him to lead?
When he claimed battle victories?
Somewhere along his journey, pride took over and he didn’t act in God’s Spirit.
Our boys need God’s Spirit to steer their tongues if they’re to speak the truth.
Unlike the world our boys live in today, a vow carried great weight in Jephthah’s day. He could not break his promise, saying, “I have opened my mouth to the LORD, and I cannot take back my vow,” (vs. 35). We’re not certain if the mighty warrior’s daughter was sacrificed on an altar or set aside as a virgin, never to marry. Both were cause for grief in her day. Promises were neither made nor broken lightly.
Keeping our word comes at a cost. Our boys must learn the weight of choosing their words and crafting their promises so they can keep their word.
- A boy understands the value of words from those who teach him to speak.
- A boy learns the standard of promise keeping from parents who model promises.
- A boy realizes the weight of making a promise when he learns the cost of keeping one.
- A boy becomes a man of his word when he learns where truth is found.
- A boy discovers his integrity is a mighty weapon of strength and confidence.
How your boy keeps his word determines the path of his life. Every boy may find “worthless fellows,” temptations of pride, and pathways away from God’s Spirit. It will be easy to find companions to encourage compromise and friends to applaud excuses.
Let’s help our sons become mighty warriors who wield the weapon of integrity. May they be truthful with their words and careful with their promises made and kept.
For sons who keep their word,
Not a day goes by when Julie Sanders is not thankful that “where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Rom. 5:20). She loves to teach God’s word and minister to women, because she was blessed to have seasoned moms walk the motherhood journey with her. The youngest of their two nearly grown kids, son Jacob has made Julie catch her breath, fill with joy, and drop to her knees time and time again. She is the author of Expectant: 40 Devotions for New and Expectant Moms.