Talking a Good Game

Ecclesiastes 5:3-5

Bo doesn’t say much. He’s standing here in my office right now, and not a single word has passed his mouth. This is probably a good thing, since Bo is a dog. And as dogs go, he’s generally a closed-mouth kind of guy.

When Bo wants to go out, he’ll get antsy until we let him out. When he’s hungry–if we’ve neglected to feed him–he might nose at his bowl. Otherwise, he lets his actions speak for him. I admire that. He doesn’t sit around bragging about how he’s going to catch some squirrel in the yard. Instead, he waits until the opportunity arises and gives that squirrel a mighty run.

If only people could be more like Bo. Instead, our mouths tend to promise a great deal more than our hands can deliver. This isn’t a new thing. Solomon spoke of the same 3,000 years ago.

Just as dreams accompany much labor, so also a fool’s voice comes with many words. When you make a vow to God, don’t delay fulfilling it, because he does not delight in fools. Fulfill what you vow. Better that you do not vow than that you vow and not fulfill it.

Ecclesiastes 5:3-5

The Empty Promise

I used to know a guy named Ralph. Ralph meant well, but his hopes and dreams ran far ahead of his ability to bring those to anything like a reality. He was a master of the “coulda, shoulda, woulda” school of accomplishment. One year, as the Scout troop readied itself to leave for summer camp, we realized that Ralph had taken some of the medical forms home and lost them in the mountain of papers that topped his desk. Happily, a half-hour’s excavation turned them up. It was then that I decided that the best thing you could hear out of Ralph’s mouth was two words: “I found . . .”

As I said before, Ralph meant well. He’d volunteer for things at church, and from time to time, he’d actually do them Normally, he procrastinated, alienating most of the people with whom he dealt. I learned to appreciate him, but I also learned never to depend on him.

If I were totally unlike Ralph, I could feel a little better about sharing these comments. But in reality, I’m all too often just like him, perhaps not to the same degree but with no more excuse.

Today, I’ve been working on a writing assignment–a paying gig that will land a nice sum in my bank account a few days after I submit it. I’ve had this assignment and known the deadline for about eight months, but I have of course put it off and allowed the date to sneak up on me until now I have to push myself to finish it in the next two days.

Getting in Tune

Today’s text warns us about making vows to God. We can sometimes fool people when we make pie-crust promises–easily made and easily broken. We can offer up pitiful excuses like “I never got that email” or “My computer ate it.” Eventually people figure us out, but we can get away with it for a while.

God, of course, knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows when we promise something whether or not we’ll get it done. Perhaps if we keep our mouths shut and listen to Him instead, He’ll help us learn to come through better.

Man’s Best Friend (Hebrews 3:2)

He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. (Hebrews 3:2)

Cassie, our Great Pyrenees, went missing earlier today. Rarely does she wander out of sight of the house, yet this morning we could find her nowhere. Since I had seen her in the woods just down the driveway, I decided to check that spot. I still haven’t discovered what she’s been doing in that area, but she did appear behind me when I walked to the locale.

The odd thing about this is that Cassie is so dependable. She lazes around the house all day so that she can go on night patrol, barking at anything that approaches too close and keeping the livestock safe. She’s even started picking up eggs laid in out-of-the-way places, and bringing them down to the front door. What an animal!

Cassie does not take the trash out, fetch the mail, or feed the chickens. As much as I would appreciate the help, I don’t expect it. She’s a guard and herding dog. At those tasks, she’s proven completely faithful.

When the author of Hebrews mentions Moses again, I find it surprising. After all, he’s just spent two chapters differentiating Jesus from Moses and the angels, so why then compare Jesus with Moses? Then it struck me that, having shown the two to be incomparable, the writer can now praise Moses in the same way that I can praise Cassie.

You see, my dog is utterly reliable. My wife is utterly reliable. The difference is that I rely on my wife for much more, I have much loftier expectations of her, than I do of Cassie. Moses was as faithful as a human can be expected to be. Jesus is as faithful as God can be expected to be.

As much as I appreciate that dog, I’ll prefer Penny in a heartbeat. And the same goes for Christ over even the most faithful of humans.