But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. Matthew 5:37
And first, though many of them were poor, yet there was none so poor but if they were known to be of that congregation the Dutch (either bakers or others) would trust them in any reasonable matter when they wanted money, because they found by experience how careful they were to keep their word, and saw them so painful and diligent in their callings. Yea, they would strive to get their custom and to employ them above others in their work, for their honesty and diligence. ~William Bradford~
What kind of people were these Separatist? We know a little of their time in Holland. What we do know is found in the correspondence between those in Holland and England. One such exert I posted just so you could read it for yourself. There was a time in which true Christians were people of their word. If they said they would do a thing, they did their best to do it. Instead of needing surety they were trusted because of their life. Now a days, try getting a loan based on your word. I recall many years ago, my own father’s word was enough. Such were the men of this Ohio Valley. Once dad went into a small mom and pop location and asked the owner, “Don’t I owe you for a pound of nails?” The owner pulled out his dusty old ledger and looked up dad’s name. Dad owed him less than $2, but settled the account. Such was the result of trusting a man’s word. We no longer hear the words, “Put it on my account.” Even the smallest amount needs a credit check.
Actually, Christians have done it to themselves. Once I was a plant manager in Kentucky. I had to visit a garbage collection company and ask arrange for our trash to be picked up. The businessman I spoke to was rather reluctant to take us on. I thought to assure him by saying, “I am a minister of the gospel. You have my word.” I will never forget his response. “No offense pastor, but some of my worse customers are preachers.” My heart fell in my chest.
Men of God were once known for their truth and trust, not only to their neighbors, but to the community at large. Sometimes we forget that if we don’t fulfill our word we end up stealing from someone else, even with tithes and offerings. We are told in Malachi 3 that we rob God. No, He doesn’t need our money, but He expects His people to be good stewards of that which is given. How can we expect God to bless when we haven’t cared for what He has given?
The good of a congregation can be ruined by just one person. May it be said of us, that we are godly and wholly. I once went to a car dealership to cosign for my son. I told the manager that I wasn’t sure that my credit was good enough. His words back to me, “Your credit is so good, you can have any car on the lot.” Thank you Lord for entrusting me. Amen.