Be careful what you promise to God.
At the last Passover meal with Jesus Peter made a promise he couldn’t keep. In accordance with the Scriptures, Jesus tells the disciples they will all fall away. Peter, always the impulsive one, declares, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.”
But this isn’t God’s will. Peter is speaking out of self-reliance; out of pride. Always the recipe for disaster. Jesus knows it is a promise Peter can’t keep and tells him so. He is even specific about when the denial will take place: this very night, before the rooster crows.
Despite specifics uttered by Jesus, Peter becomes more emphatic, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.”
Peter is speaking based on his feelings at the moment. They just had a nice meal. They learned of a new covenant. They are singing hymns. Everything feels good, feels right at the moment. Peter is pumped and feeling brave.
Jesus, on the other hand, is well aware of the intense spiritual battle raging all around.
Be careful what you promise God. So what do we do instead?
Jesus tells us when he encounters Peter failing at something far less intense than facing death for Jesus’ sake.…not being able to stay awake when Jesus asks him to during a time of deep need. “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak,” Jesus says.
Not too many hours later Peter denies Jesus. Three times. And not to an armed military commander, but to an unthreatening servant girl. The rooster crows.
And this is so us, right? We feel so close to God and we make promises we can’t keep. Or we royally mess up and we make promises we can’t keep. Or we want something so badly and we make promises we can’t keep.
Be careful what you promise to God. He doesn’t want our naive promises; He wants our person, our presence, our devotion. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Instead, watch and pray.
I love this portion of Oswald Chamber’s January 4 Utmost for His Highest devotional I saved on my phone when I read it that morning…
“Peter did not wait for God. He predicted in his own mind where the test would come, and it came where he did not expect it. ‘I will lay down my life for Your sake.’ Peter’s statement was honest but ignorant. ‘Jesus answered him, ‘…the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times’ ‘ This was said with a deeper knowledge of Peter than Peter had of himself. He could not follow Jesus because he did not know himself or his own capabilities well enough. Natural devotion may be enough to attract us to Jesus, to make us feel His irresistible charm, but it will never make us disciples. Natural devotion will deny Jesus, always falling short of what it means to truly follow Him.”
God, let this be a warning to me that I take seriously. Forgive me when I ignorantly and impulsively make promises I have no business making and know nothing about. Let my desire be to truly follow you, not relying on my feelings at the moment, my pride, or my own strength. Thank you that you already know all of the times I will break promises and fail miserably. Thank you that You already know them and You love me anyway.
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