"An Honest Man's Word Is As Good As His Bond"

Miguel de Cervantes, Spanish novelist, playwright, and poet, the creator of Don Quixote, the most famous figure in Spanish literature, is quoted as saying, “An honest man’s word is as good as his bond” (source). When one gives his word, it should mean that he will do what he has agreed to do, regardless, even if it means personal convenience or inconvenience; at personal gain or loss. There was a time when large sums of money or property changed hands based on a handshake (yes, this writer remembers that time). And, if a man was known not to stand by his word, folks would not deal with him because he was not trustworthy enough to stand behind what he said.

In today’s world, many people have little or no regard for doing what they say they will do. When they agree to something, they are thinking in their minds, “will this be advantageous to me?” And, if that becomes a loss to the person they are dealing with, then that person must understand and accept that.

Let us ask ourselves, “What is wrong with this picture?” What is wrong with this picture is exactly what Jesus addresses in Matthew 5:33-37, “Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of oldtime, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths …. but let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

Jesus is taking issue with the prevailing, hypocritical practice of false swearing. It has nothing to do with regulating civil court procedures (Compare Matthew 23:16-22, where He illustrates this point). The Jews would commonly take an oath to substantiate the truthfulness of their statements, but differentiate between what was binding for telling the truth or not, based on that by which they swore.

The problem, as Jesus addressed it, really had to do with truthfulness in character – a man’s word should be sufficient, because he is an honest man. A dishonest man’s word, even when uttered on a stack of Bibles, is not to be trusted. If a man of Christian character forgets to do what he has given his word to do, remind him and he will perform it, even at considerable cost and inconvenience. But a man who does not stand behind his word is deficient in Christian character.

Beloved, let’s all strive to be men and women of Christian character, standing by our word when we give it.

Mike Riley, Gospel Snippets