covenantI’ve noticed something over the past few years. It may not seem like much, really…a little thing. But I think it is important. I think it’s something worth keeping in mind.

There seems to be some confusion in our society between a contract and a covenant. In fact, most people don’t use the word “covenant” much, if at all and therefore make the confusion all the easier to fall into. But there is a huge difference! Let me see if I can explain:

A contract is an agreement between two people – either a legal or verbal agreement – in which both parties agree to conditions. Should one party fail to meet those conditions, the contract is null and void.

My grandfather was a contractor of sorts. He built small homes for people all over Gleason and MacKenzie, TN. For Daddy Owen, a contract was a simple handshake between his client and himself. Should the client fail to pay my grandfather during the building of the home, the contract was null and void and Daddy Owen was no longer obligated to complete the project.

A covenant, on the other hand, is a relationship. It involves two people who agree to certain conditions. Should one party fail to meet those conditions, the other party remains faithful and meets the conditions he/she has agreed upon.

A marriage is not a contract (as much as some people treat it as such). It is a covenant between two people. The vows in marriage do not say: “Will you have this man/woman to be your husband/wife as long as you like?” In the marriage covenant, these words are never spoken: “I will love you if you love me back” or “I will remain faithful if you remain faithful.” No. The marriage covenant – and all covenants – say, “I will remain faithful to this covenant regardless of how well or poorly you remain faithful.”

Contracts are humanly driven and devised. Covenants are divinely driven and devised. God has entered into a covenant with us through Jesus. That relationship says to us “No matter how well or poorly you treat this relationship, I will always love you. Even when you fail, I will remain faithful to you.”

What would the world, our community, our churches, our families look like if we all started living all of our relationships by covenant rather than contract?