What to Do When You Have Made an Expensive Mistake

On Swearing to Your Own Hurt

Article by

Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

There is a tremendous temptation to break our word when a pledge or contract turns out to be a financial fiasco. But when Psalm 15 describes the kind of person who “may dwell on God’s holy hill,” one of the marks of that person is that “he swears to his own hurt and does not change.”

What that means is that he makes a promise, and even if it hurts to follow through on it, he does not change his commitment. His word is more valuable than his money. His integrity is more precious than his wealth. He stands by his word even if it hurts.

Where do we get the strength of character to do that?

There is a story in the Old Testament that gives an answer (2 Chronicles 25:5-9). Amaziah was the king of Judah. He was being threatened by the Edomites. So he counted the men in his country above 20 years old, and formed an army of 300,000 men.

He also went to the northern kingdom of Israel and hired 100,000 valiant warriors. He paid them 100 talents of silver (about 6,600 pounds of silver).

But this displeased the Lord and a man of God came to Amaziah and said, “O king, do not let the army of Israel go with you, for the Lord is not with Israel … God will bring you down before the enemy.”

You can imagine Amaziah’s first thought. “Amaziah said to the man of God, ‘But what shall we do for the hundred talents which I have given to the troops of Israel?’” It was a reasonable question. It is the question we all ask when we have made a rash commitment of money and things go wrong. Should Amaziah stand by his commitment to the warriors of Israel when he tells them to go home? What should he do?

The answer of the man of God was simple: “The Lord has much more to give you than this.” In other words: trust God and keep your word. Stand by your commitment because the Lord will take care of you and see that your integrity is rewarded in ways that you could never imagine.

The issue at a moment like this is trust. Will we trust God to act for us? Will we take Psalm 37:5 to heart and bank on it: “Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in him and he will act”? The issue is trust. Will we trust God to come through for us in his way and in his time?

Many promises are broken because people do not trust God. In fact they don’t even think of God. He is not in the equation. Money is in the equation. Shrewdness is in the equation. Human probabilities are in the equation. But God is forgotten. He is just not as real as the money we might lose.

I call you to reckon with the powerful, relevant, present, promising reality of God. Be holy. Be faithful. Keep your promises. Be people of unimpeachable integrity. For God’s sake. “He is a shield to those who walk in integrity” (Proverbs 2:7).

Staying behind the shield with you,

Pastor John