Hardly an aspect of our everyday lives is not governed by our sense of the promise this or that activity, relationship, or commitment holds for our well-being. We choose a life partner because we believe this relationship holds the promise for our maximum happiness in marriage. We pursue careers and change jobs in the hope that we will realize the promise of greater satisfaction and reward. All our purchases, the ways we use our time, the relationships into which we enter, the avocations we pursue, and the priorities we choose are governed by our sense of the promise such things hold to bring happiness and fulfillment into our lives. We are creatures of promise: our lives are ruled by promise and our happiness and well-being are determined, in no small part, by the extent to which the realities of our lives match up to the promises we believed we would realize.
Sadly, for many of those who identify themselves as followers of Jesus Christ, the promises held out to them by the opportunities and relationships of their lives in the world provide their primary motivation for daily living, and are the principal source of their happiness. They get up in the morning to go to work, hoping to find some satisfaction there and to earn enough income to provide for their wants and needs and those of their families. They come home at night after an exhausting day seeking the promise of rest, relaxation, and relief that family, television, or any of a hundred other diversions hold out. They go on vacation, hoping to find the promise of rest and renewal; purchase new cars for the promise they offer of self-esteem (and maybe a little better gas mileage); and send their kids to this or that school for the promise it offers of a better job or a more moral and satisfying life.
When what they hoped for in these choices is realized, then happiness and a sense of well-being ensue; when the hoped-for boon does not pan out, they are disappointed and fall into moods of meanness, anxiety, and despair. Having hitched their wagons to uncertain stars, the only happiness they can know is fleeting, and the only fulfillment they can realize is tentative and rarely, if ever, as satisfying as hoped.
The problem is not with living according to the hope of promises; the problem is that, for many of the followers of Christ, their promises are just too puny. And there is no certainty in this uncertain world that even their relatively puny promises will enable them to realize the hoped-for boon. So the level of joy, enthusiasm for life, and earnest purpose that characterizes many Christians is not that much different from that of their secular friends and acquaintances. With all the same promises as the guiding force in their lives, how could it be otherwise?
The great privilege that is ours as followers of Christ is that we are the recipients of better promises than the fleeting, materialistic, and temporal hopes that come from jobs, families, and diversions. As important as these are, they are not sufficient to fill our lives with enduring purpose or to summon us to the courage of our convictions when our faith is on the line. We need better promises than these, and some kind of guarantee that those promises are not mere empty gestures. This is precisely what we have in God’s covenant, “exceedingly great and precious promises” and a sovereign, faithful God who keeps His promises in exhaustive detail . . .
. . . As we trust in [Jesus Christ] we enter into His finished work, the work of covenant satisfaction and fulfillment, and we embark upon a lifestyle of claiming and enjoying the promises we have inherited as true sons and daughters by faith . . . The promises made to Abraham have been realized in Christ, and they await our faithful and obedient appropriation in our everyday callings as the heirs of Abraham and the followers of the Lord of Glory.
T. M. Moore in I Will Be Your God: How God’s Covenant Enriches Our Lives, pp. 16-17 , 40-41.
See also Michael S. Horton’s “The Promise-Driven Life”