If you make a vow to the Lord your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the Lord your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin. But if you refrain from making a vow, you will not be guilty. Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the Lord your God with your own mouth. (NIV)
These verses have always spoke deep into my heart. There is a seriousness about making a vow before God. Even if we take it lightly it is clear that God has an expectation that we should not be slack about our vows before him.
For example, you are in a tight spot and you promised God you would quit a particular habit. Then the trouble disappears and behold your commitment about your habit also seems to disappear. You might argue, “That was a promise made under much stress. Besides, no one was there to hear the vow, so it didn’t really count, right?”
What matters is not who heard your vow, but that you made it. No one forced you. Besides, you brought God into the picture. Christians know that they live in God’s presence and that their words reflect on God himself. According to this text all our words count – especially our vows.
Because a vow is voluntary, then it seems we should control our tongues and only make vows we fully intend to keep. Standing by the promises you make, as long as they are honorable, is good self-discipline. It is also a good way to build character and reputation. Wise people understand the significance of trust and keeping one’s word.
What vows have you made? To be faithful to your spouse? To be loyal to your church’s support and attendance? To be a law-abiding citizen? To watch your kids’, play their home games? To spend evenings with family members three times a week?
My wife says that, “A promise made, is a debt unpaid.” Let’s be wise, pay all our “promise” debts and not make liars out of ourselves.
Help me to be wise, Lord, in the words I speak and the promises I make. Give me strength to be a promise-keeper and, above all, to be faithful to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.