Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 98; 146, Daniel 2:1-16, 1 John 2:1-11, John 17:12-19

When a person or company sells software or another intangible product that isn’t complete (or perhaps doesn’t exist at all yet), that product is called “vaporware.” It’s not always an intentional deception; sales people are often genuinely optimistic the product will be ready by the delivery date. Unfortunately they can also be genuinely wrong.

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was too smart to fall for what may have been one of the world’s earliest vaporware scams. He summoned wise men – magicians, sorcerers, and astrologers (stereotyped as Chaldeans) – to interpret his disturbing dream. He wanted them to first tell him what the dream was, as proof of their abilities. The astrologers stepped up and promised to interpret the dream if only the king told them about it first. This angered the king because he knew they were intentionally misleading him and could not interpret. He decreed to reward them if they told the dream and interpreted it, but to execute them and destroy their houses otherwise. The astrologers protested no one could possibly do what the king asked (despite having promised it minutes before) and it made him so furious he ordered the execution of all the “wise men” in the land.

When we promise more than we can deliver, we risk more than our reputation; we gamble with the well-being of others. Businesses, lives, and relationships can be ruined. We may not be getting our peers executed, but claiming overblown profits and capabilities, selling snake oil to the desperately ill, or reneging on personal commitments leaves other to pick up the pieces of inconvenience and even disaster.

Let’s be honest with ourselves and others about the limits of our time and ability. In business and life it’s much better to under-promise and over-deliver than vice versa. The world won’t always cooperate: bosses will want it faster and friends will want more. If saying “yes” now only delays an inevitable disappointment … say “no.” In the long run you’ll both respect you more.

Remember that we represent more than just our own brand, but Christ’s “brand” as well. Walk in your integrity.

Comfort: It’s okay to say no when you need to.

Challenge: Consider your current commitments. Can you keep all of them? If not, responsibly decline the ones you can’t before it’s too late.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for the time and talents you have given me. Teach me to use them well. Amen.

Discussion: How do you feel when you let someone down? When someone lets you down?

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