The Trail Life Oath begins “On my honor…” but what does that really mean?
What is honor? What does it mean to pledge an oath based upon your honor? What are the consequences of compromising your honor if you break your oath?
Simply put, “on my honor” means “to give my personal promise”. If I say it, I mean it and I will do it.
When I consistently follow through on this promise, I build my integrity or “trustworthiness”; however, if I disregard the promise or act in a contrary manner, I will undermine my reputation.
Honor is credited to people who are fair, dependable and trustworthy in their dealings with others. It is the sum of the evaluation of our daily actions.
What does the Bible say about God’s evaluation of our daily actions and integrity? A lot!
- 1 Chronicles 29:17 (New American Standard Bible) “I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things have I given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.”
- 2 Chronicles 16:9a For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.
- Job 2:3 (NASB) “Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”
- Jeremiah 17:10 (NASB) “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.”
- Romans 8:27 (New International Version) And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. [God evaluates what’s in our hearts, not just our outward actions or what we proclaim with our mouths – a much higher standard]
- Romans 5:12 (NASB) Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned [Adam’s sin was the first break of integrity, his dishonor affected all mankind, and we continue to disobey]
- Romans 3:23-28 (NASB) “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where then is boasting? It is excluded by what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. [We can’t earn justification through what we do or say; however, we can, by faith alone be justified through Christ who, being more than honorable was able to pay the price to save us from our own dishonorable/sinful condition].
So we can state our oath, but it ultimately boils down to how we live our lives on a daily basis. Do we check our choices and decisions against our pledge? God searches not only our actions but our hearts and our intent. Make your pledge, but remember that it is a commitment of principle and intent – do your best to follow through consistently.