This passage in Ki Teitzei serves as an important reminder to “guard and do what comes out of your mouth” in every aspect of life. How careful are we about the words that come out of our mouths? How careful are we about actually carrying out those words? How careful are we about fulfilling those words in a timely manner?
Being a person of your word has many positive effects on your life. When you fulfill your word to someone, it gives you a sense of fulfillment and a great amount of joy. It builds your self-image because you’ve made a good choice.
Keeping your word not only helps you feel terrific, but it makes the person to whom you kept your word feel terrific, too. It makes them feel important because they know that you really meant what you said to them. When you tell someone that you will do something, it builds their expectation. Seeing that expectation come to fruition builds their trust in your relationship with them.
Even simply saying something like, “I’ll meet you at 2:00 PM” or “I’ll call you tomorrow,” and actually doing so, shows that you mean what you say and that you are a person who honors his word. Being loyal to your word speaks volumes and builds trust.
Conversely, when you constantly fail to carry out what comes out of your mouth, your self-image lowers because you’ve made a poor choice. Getting locked into a pattern of poor decision making can discourage you from trying to be better.
Continually neglecting to act on what comes out of your mouth makes others stop trusting you and listening to you. Your word becomes less and less important and no longer powerful to them. Ultimately, it can dilute and even ruin your relationship with them. Furthermore, you also cause damage and disappointment to the person who put their expectation and trust in what you said you would do.
As we approach the High Holidays, a time when we are to seek forgiveness and repentance, let’s be careful with our words so as not to make obligations that we are not prepared to keep, and let’s make every effort to apologize to those whom we have hurt by not fulfilling our word. In our society, it has become so common to throw words around without ever intending to act upon them. Do you want to be common, or do you want to be excellent?