I vividly remember when I was in my primary school, some years back, an incident that has stubbornly remained etched in my mind. There was to be fundraiser at our school and the guest of honor was to be a man of wealth and reputation.
Therefore, for many days, we spared the games time to compose for him a song that we thought would excite him to contribute more. It was a song that praised his exploits.
On the D-Day, before the main event started, we were expected to present before him our song. The guest of honor was so excited that he spontaneously ordered someone from the crowd to take measurements of our feet for within two weeks, each one of us would be a proud owner of a brand new pair of shoes. How excited we were that cold evening!
Each day, we would be anticipating the promised day to come and our optimism was incomparable. When the two weeks came and elapsed, we started having our doubts. After a month of waiting in vain, we gave up. The day he made that promise was the last time we saw him and his phantom shoes.
But even if he disappointed us, let me not be the one to throw the first stone at him. I admit that I have also been a perpetrator of false promises. How many times have I told my editors that I would deliver them a piece and that’s the last time they hear of me? How many false promises have I made to many people in my life? They are countless.
Now that the messenger has shot himself, the focus turns on you. How many promises have you made but have not fulfilled? You know yourself, so I leave it at that.
Yes, we make promises that we are unable to fulfill. When Jesus was facing his travails, none other than Simon Peter, his favorite disciple, promised that he was ready to die with him. When the cock crowed thrice, Peter wept. He had made a false promise to his master.
The book of Hosea 10:4 say, “They make many promises, take false oaths and make agreements; therefore lawsuits spring up like poisonous weeds in a plowed field,” while Levicutus 19: 12 say, “You must not make a false promise by my name, or you will show that you don’t respect your God. I am the Lord.”
Yes, now we know that making a false promise can have some consequence. God disapproves of such acts and yet, we continue going contrary to what He expects of us. We are unwittingly sinning.
When I asked several people for this article if they have been victims and perpetrators of false promises, all agreed. Some said that they have not been able to deliver on their promises because of the constraints of other unseen factors that came after making the promise.
“There are some promises that you are forced to make under duress. Your neighbour’s child may be sick but you also don’t have money. You may promise to provide your neighbour with support even though you are also suffering on your own,” says Judy Habimana of Remera.
“Yes, I did one day promise my brother I would support him pay school fee for his children even though my own children were suffering the same fate. I just wanted to please him,” Timothy Kazungu says.
In Islam, according to an internet source, “The twenty-first of the Greater sins is ‘breaking of a promise.’ There are authentic traditions to this effect from Abdul AzÄ«m where he quotes that Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has proved it to be a Greater sin with the help of some verses in Holy Qur’an.”