My son, if you become surety for your friend, If you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger, You are snared by the words of your mouth; You are taken by the words of your mouth. So do this, my son, and deliver yourself; For you have come into the hand of your friend: Go and humble yourself; Plead with your friend. Give no sleep to your eyes, Nor slumber to your eyelids. Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.
Proverbs 6:1-5, NKJV
Have you ever needed to take out a loan or get a service (cable, telephone, electricity, etc.), but your credit was … lacking? You need a co-signer to get that loan or service.
Perhaps you have been on the other side and have been the co-signer. It can be scary either way. I have been on both sides.
I have had to pay debts friends and family could not pay, and sometimes it was a struggle financially.
This could be a lesson on Christ’s sacrifice posting our debt of sin. Instead, this is about seeing how our promises can catch us.
Leaving the Altar
You see, our commitments have effects on others. We promise to pay that bill. We promise to be at that event. We promise to carry our fair share.
And then we don’t.
We put up the strong front and commit to keeping other promises.
But Jesus says, “if you bring your gift to the altar, and then remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and first go be reconciled to your brother before returning to offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24)
In other words, humble yourself, and do what is right.
If as the one who owes, confess your wrong or inability and seek forgiveness. If as the one who is owed, forgive the debt (of the promise, of the burden) and move on (possibly through making a plan or as simply releasing all responsibility).
The big point is to hold onto the relationship above all else.