The Broken Tooth Syndrome

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Picture this: You take a seat at your favorite restaurant awaiting the opportunity to order the steak for which you have been longing. Your mouth is watering as you place your order in anticipation of that first bite. The food arrives and after expressing thanksgiving to God you cut off the first bite and lift the fork to your mouth as the aroma overwhelms your olfactory sense causing your taste buds to arise to the occasion in anticipation.  But just as you close your mouth awaiting the sensation of taste something very wrong takes place. Your tooth breaks. What was going to be a moment of bliss turns into disgust and trouble as you scramble to sort out the pieces of the broken tooth and to find relief of the pain.

The Bible uses that very description to show us how anytime we fail to live up to our commitments, we cause a similar pain to those who are counting on us.

Proverbs 25:19 (KJV) — 19 Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble Is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.

Proverbs 25:19 (ESV) — 19 Trusting in a treacherous man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips.

Before I deal with the subject of not living up to commitments, let me say first that it must be recognized that sometimes there are legitimate reasons for not fulfilling commitments so I don’t want to lump all failures to fulfill promises in one lump.  However, it must be recognized that either way, the pain suffered by those who are counting on the fulfillment is the same. Granted, there is sympathy for legitimate reasons which softens the blow but pain experienced is quite real no matter the reason.

With that said, let’s notice how the person who does not live up to commitments is described as “unfaithful” or “treacherous.” The Bible is very serious about this subject, a matter that is often passed over in our modern era. There was once a time when people so lived up to their word that contracts were rarely signed; but today, even signed contracts seem to be taken lightly.

There was an old preacher who told the story of a pastor who went calling upon a deacon in his church that was neglecting the worship of God. The pastor asked him directly why he had been missing the assembly of the church in worship. To which the deacon replied that he had buttermilk in the frig. “Buttermilk in the frig?” The pastor inquired. To which the deacon said, “one excuse is as lame as the next.” Isn’t that the truth!

One old guy said that if people gave as much effort to fulfill their commitments as they do in coming up with excuses why they didn’t, they would just live up to their word.

So how about you? Is your word good or are you causing those who count on you to suffer “broken tooth syndrome?”

When a person lives up to their word as a way of life, then there is no doubt about what is guiding them through life – their integrity. The result is their integrity brings blessing instead of bringing trouble as a broken tooth.

Proverbs 11:3 (ESV) — 3 The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.

Proverbs 20:7 (ESV) — 7 The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him!

What is the trouble behind unfulfilled commitments? We all are quick to commit to too many things to which we either cannot fulfill or have no intention to fulfill. Either way, our actions or lack thereof, cause pain for others. Therefore, give greater consideration before you make a commitment; but when you do – live up to it. Since a commitment is like a vow, and a vow before God at that, we must also remember that God takes notice of our lack of fulfilling our commitments, therefore you might say, our unfulfilled promises cause Him a pain like a broken tooth as well.

Ecclesiastes 5:4 (ESV) — 4 When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow.

James 5:12 (ESV) — 12 But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

Something to think about the next time you take a bite of a juicy steak. What if your tooth broke off? On the other hand, your enjoyment is like the enjoyment of a person to whom you made and kept your commitment. Bon appetite!


Bob Brubaker

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