You’ve Overcommitted–Now What?

by May 16, 2024Christian living, Community, Devotional, Proverbs, Speech, Wisdom0 comments

“My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, have given your pledge for a stranger, if you are snared in the words of your mouth, caught in the words of your mouth, then do this, my son, and save yourself, for you have come into the hand of your neighbor; go, hasten, and plead urgently with your neighbor.” – Proverbs 6:1-3

There are times to start with your last resort. That’s often the case with prayer and repentance. After we’ve tried everything, we remember, Maybe I should pray about this. Once you’ve made things sufficiently worse by covering your tracks and making excuses, at last you think, Maybe I should own up to my side of this. Unfortunately, by this stage, late is often only marginally better than never.

This string of proverbs encourages us to make the turnaround faster, and your life easier. It lists a couple different scenarios illustrating the same thing—you’ve gotten yourself into a jam. You’ve overcommitted, misestimated, or perhaps flat out lied. What do you do? Instinct (sin) tells you that if you’ve got a little more to cover up, you just need to dig a little deeper. There’s got to be a way for me to work my way out of this with no one being the wiser.

God affirms your desire to save face. He gave you that desire. The trouble is we want a way to do it with no cost. The first lie about lying is that lying works. Now granted, you don’t need to book a camera crew to confess every time you skip flossing. There are plenty of mistakes you can quietly go about fixing yourself. But when your error involves a promise or expectation given to someone else, it’s no longer a private matter.

As this proverb tells us, the first and hardest step is to recognize “you have come into the hand of your neighbor.” You made the commitment, and now you are now at the mercy of your neighbor. This proverb has worked its way backward to make us a commitment-averse society. If you never make any commitments, you’ll never disappoint anyone. But you’ll also not have any relationships to disappoint, which is hardly an improvement.

Our relationship with God provides a model for every other one. We’re in a hole with God. We’ve made promises and commitments we have not kept, and frankly, will never keep. What’s the first thing we need to do? “Go, hasten, plead urgently with Him.” We are in God’s hands. We have no bargaining chips to bring to the table. The sooner we realize this, the more constructive our interaction will be.

We like to qualify our apologies with God and with others. There were these circumstances, these stressors, you backed me into a corner. All this may be true, but think about the effect when someone does that to you? Extenuating circumstances do nothing to lessen the hurt you’ve received. But it does handicap your power (and willingness) to forgive. As scary and humbling as it is to place yourself at someone else’s mercy, that’s your best chance of getting it. Start practicing this with God. Because Jesus paid for everything, He has nothing but mercy for those who put their faith in Him.

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