March 11, 1942, was a dark, desperate day at Corregidor. The Pacific theatre of war was threatening and bleak. One island after another had been buffeted into submission. The enemy was now marching into the Philippines as confident and methodical as the star band in the Rose Bowl parade. Surrender was inevitable. The brilliant and bold soldier, Douglas MacArthur, had only three words for his comrades as he stepped into the escape boat destined for Australia:
“I SHALL RETURN.”
Upon arriving nine days later in the port of Adelaide, the 62-year-old military statesman closed his remarks with this sentence:
“I CAME THROUGH AND I SHALL RETURN.”
A little over two and a half years later—October 20, 1944, to be exact—he stood once again on Philippine soil after landing safely at Leyte Island. This is what he said:
“This is the voice of freedom, General MacArthur speaking. People of the Philippines: I HAVE RETURNED!”
MacArthur kept his word. His word was as good as his bond. Regardless of the odds against him, including the pressures and power of enemy strategy, he was bound and determined to make his promise good.
This rare breed of man is almost extinct. Whether an executive or an apprentice, a student or a teacher, a blue collar or white, a Christian or pagan—rare indeed are those who keep their word. The prevalence of the problem has caused the coining of terms painfully familiar to us in our era: credibility gap. To say that something is “credible” is to say it is “capable of being believed, trustworthy” To refer to a “gap” in such suggests a “breach or a reason for doubt.”
Jurors often have reason to doubt the testimony of a witness on the stand. Parents, likewise, have reason at times to doubt their children’s word (and vice versa). Citizens frequently doubt the promises of politicians, and the credibility of an employee’s word is questioned by the employer. Creditors can no longer believe a debtor’s verbal promise to pay, and many a mate has ample reason to doubt the word of his or her partner. This is a terrible dilemma! Precious few do what they say they will do without a reminder, a warning, or a threat. Unfortunately, this is true even among Christians.
Is it true of you? We’ll talk more about credibility tomorrow. For now, taste the encouragement in God’s message to His people in Zephaniah 3:8–13 and chew especially His words about purified and truthful speech. Let them motivate you today to the highest standard—God’s standard—of integrity.
Excerpted from Come Before Winter and Share My Hope, Copyright © 1985, 1994 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.