In view of all this, we are making a binding agreement in writing on a sealed document containing the names of our leaders, Levites, and priests. – Nehemiah 9:38
Have you ever been told that something needed to be “put in writing?” I have been in plenty of situations where such an action was assumed and many others when it was agreed upon by mutual consent. It is often a good idea, particularly in business arrangements, to write it down. Most ministry organizations utilize a non-legal form of a contract in what is known as an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding). An increasing number of churches have even begun to ask their members to sign a covenant as a symbol of the strength of their commitment to their local congregation.
In all such instances, we understand that the strength of any contract, covenant, or MOU lies in two things:
1. the desire of each party to honor it, and
2. a penalty that may be enforced upon the one who breaks it.
A person who breaks a church covenant has obviously lost the desire to keep it. The penalty? The greatest would be loss of membership, but I am not sure that this is as much of a penalty as just an acknowledgement of a reality. When it comes to an agreement of between those who claim to follow Christ, the most important thing is where it is written and “where” one signs. Only those commitments engraved upon the heart by the power of grace-infused character will be kept. Whether or not we put things in writing, we certainly need to sign there.
Character is always lost when a high ideal is sacrificed on the altar of conformity and popularity. – C. H. Spurgeon