There was a time when these two would have almost been the same but that is not the case in the 21st Century and has not been for a long time. When I was a young lad growing up my parents and grandparents taught us that your word and a handshake was a guarantee that you would fulfill whatever it was you had agreed to. It did not need lawyers and reams of legal paperwork notarized and certified to be binding because you had given your word and sealed it with a handshake and that settled it as far as you were concerned. You would never consider failing to fulfill your part of the agreement even if it was to your detriment to do so. Your word was a representation of your character and your name was the most valued possession you had. Truthfully, even in that generation there were unscrupulous individuals that were shysters and cheats who could not be trusted but for most people it was the normal and expected way of life and doing business.
We had a small farm and one of the crops that we grew to sell was peas and dad would sell them by the bushel and had two prices. One price if the individual picked their own and a slightly higher price if we picked them, and naturally we kids never thought the price was enough for us picking them. Although Dad loved us and valued our labors he did not consider it an unreasonable expectation to send us to the field to pick peas for someone while he and they sat under the shade of the Sycamore trees beside the house drinking coffee or iced tea and chatting. When we came in with the harvest he would frequently send us back to gather a few more peas because his bushel was “good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.” It was not a bushel it was at least a bushel and one-third to one-half more. To him anything less would not have been honorable and I learned to appreciate his reasoning, especially after I became a Christian. I have seen him refund money when someone would mention that some of the peas from a previous purchase were not 100% fully mature. Often he and we knew that this complaint was nothing more than an attempt to get something for nothing but he never flinched and always went above and beyond in his business dealings. He would say, “My reputation is worth more than a few dollars.” He worked hard and gave more than a full day’s work for a day’s pay and expected the same from us. Laziness was not tolerated and failure to keep your word was not excusable.
Today we see a CONTRACT as simply a piece of paper that has a negotiated arrangement that is only good until one side or the other decides that it needs to be altered. I have always had a difficult time with that because of the way I was raised. I have watched people break their contract because they decided that the other party benefited too much from the original agreement. That should not, in my view, be a consideration because it was a negotiated agreement. I have made deals with people before and realized that I would profit more than expected from the agreement and compensated the other party based on that in addition to the agreed contract because I considered it right not because I had to legally. I have made deals and realized that I had grossly underestimated my costs and had some setbacks in the process and it resulted in me losing money in the deal but I did not complain nor try to renegotiate because I had made the deal and considered my word my bond. Today that mentality is virtually non-existent for many. This is true especially in the business, political, and sports worlds where contracts are virtually meaningless agreements broken with little thought of any sense of honor by either party. As a minister I have watched the dissolution of marriages with almost no thought or remorse and often based on, “Well I grew tired of this or that.”
A CONTRACT can be defined as a “written or spoken agreement, especially one concerning employment, sales, or tenancy that is intended to be enforceable by law.” Supposed synonyms are: agreement, covenant, treaty, pact, or compact and I suggest that those are not appropriate.
A COVENANT is defined usually as “an agreement” but biblically a Covenant is far more than that especially a “Blood Covenant” which includes marriage. Blood Covenants biblically could be defined as “a mutual understanding between two parties, each binding him/herself to the agreement, bond or pact and involves cutting the flesh.” In the Old Testament the word “Beriyth” is used to describe a compact made by passing between pieces of flesh and is a “blood bond” from which the idea of “cutting the covenant” comes. [Genesis 15:17; Jeremiah 34:18]. Covenants are made between men and between man and God. In the New Testament two words are used: “Distheke” which is a disposition, arrangement, testament or will. “Suntithemai” which is to put together, place together, or to make arrangement and the purpose of a COVENANT was to establish an unbreakable bond, treaty, pact, or agreement between parties
The Covenant always had:
1. The Words or Promises of the Covenant. [The basis of the agreement]
In this would be promises of blessing for keeping the covenant as well as promises or curses for breaking it. The terms would be detailed and verbalized and there would be an “oath” or a “vow” – a solemn affirmation with an appeal to God to watch over the agreement and be the final judge and arbiter of the agreement.
2. The Blood of the Covenant.
There were always sacrifices signifying that to break this covenant or agreement would result in death and could only be invalidated or death. It was a signifying of the total involvement and investment of the individuals in the agreement.
3. The Seal of the Covenant.
Very often would be a cutting of the flesh and at times gun powder or something of the like would be rubbed into the wound so that the scar would be forever noticeable and recognizable. It was an identifying mark that one had “cut a covenant” and that they had bound their very lives to the fulfillment of that agreement.
Honestly we know almost nothing of that mentality in today’s world and our government has no thought of their Constitutional Covenant with the American people. Their oath of office is virtually meaningless to them and there is no sense of obligation to keep it at all costs. That is one of the reasons that we have such a mess politically in today’s world. If every elected official recognized and acknowledged that when they take the “Oath of Office” to faithfully perform the duties of that position and uphold and honor the Constitution we would not be in the mess we are in today politically or economically. Party distinction would be virtually unimportant and partisan politics and gamesmanship would be non-existent. Those elected to office would truly be representatives of WE THE PEOPLE and the BEST GOOD of the nation and the people would be the top priority. Instead we have a climate of cronyism, favoritism, corruption, and the insatiable desire and drive for power and position.
We have lost what our founders established and as far as I can see the old saying about used car salesmen applies to politicians – “You know they are lying when you see their lips moving.” Honest Politician is deemed to be an oxymoron and that is a sad indictment on where we have declined as a people. Many are crying out for a “Restored Constitutional America” but too many accept the modern Contract Mentality as normal instead of insisting on a Covenant Mentality in our dealings in the business, social, spiritual, and political arenas. I will declare that UNTIL we come to the place that we fall on our faces before God and repent and demand and determine that we will not only be Covenant men and women who honor our Agreements we will NEVER see the America we so desire. Will we ever see it? I do not know but if we do not strive for it we will leave a legacy for those who follow us that will go deeper and deeper into an amoral state that can only produce destruction and decay.
I have been wordy and possibly failed to communicate the deep cry of my heart to see men and women return to a mentality where we “honor our word” with one another, as a nation, and a people. I want to see a society where the normal thing is people doing, the “right thing” even if it does not give them a particular edge or windfall profit. I believe that this would give us a platform for “limited government”, a “massive reduction in violence”, and a “new civility” that would not only get the attention of the rest of the world but would produce a prosperity and growth in new innovations that many of the plagues that terrorize our world would be addressed in a significant way. We can see “healing come to our land” but that healing must first begin in each of us.
If this resonates with you then all I ask is that you consider taking steps personally that will insure that you live as a Covenant Person who keeps their Contracts and Agreements – – KEEP YOUR WORD! If enough of us demonstrate that lifestyle and insist on it from politicians, in business, socially, relationally, and spiritually we will see America the Beautiful returned to prominence and the Light of God will break through the dark clouds of despair that now enshroud this world producing a new and renewed hope that will be life changing.
That’s the end of my rant, sermon, political speech or whatever you choose to call it. May God bless, protect, and provide for you and may God defend and deliver America! Thank you for your time!