How important is it to you to keep your word? Are you quick to make promises and when the dust settles you wish you hadn’t? Have you done that recently? Here’s an even bigger question. Have you done it to God? 😳 Let’s take a look at some key verses pertaining to vows and how seriously God takes us keeping our word.
“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.”Deuteronomy 23:21-23 NIV
“When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, “My vow was a mistake.” Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands?” Ecclesiastes 5:4-6 NIV
Thank God for His mercy and grace. We have all at some point promised God something that we haven’t followed through with. I’m grateful for U-turns and second chances aren’t you? He allows us to repent and if we’ve learned our lesson, we won’t be so quick to make vows and promises we can’t keep in our own strength. But, if we’re able to do what we’ve promised then we should. People depend on our words. God would prefer we didn’t promise at all, than to promise and not follow through.
A lot of us have not received from God because we think we can outsmart Him. We’ve heard or maybe said these things ourselves: God, if you heal me I’ll serve you for the rest of my life, God if you deliver me out of….I’ll never do it again, God if you bless me with finances I’ll tithe, God if you help me get this job, this house, this apartment I’ll be a witness for you, God if you just let me marry so and so I’ll be happy, God I promise I’ll never do… I’ll never say…I’ll never go…sounds familiar? How many of those have we kept or broken?
I’ve learned the hard way that the “I’ll never” NEVER works. I’ve also learned that the reason they never worked was because in my flesh lies no good thing, and that overcoming and keeping my word, is only possible with the help of the Holy Spirit. So consequently, I’ve learned to be led by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God before opening my big mouth. I now allow the Holy Spirit to tell me how to be a blessing to someone, eliminating the probability of me promising or offering to do something I can’t live up to. I’ve also learned to not promise God anything, but to do the best I can to follow His Word. That is stress free living. If God was keeping score I’d be in trouble. Can I get an Amen?
The Bible says God is not mocked. (Galatians 6) It doesn’t say it won’t be tried, it say He’s NOT. He will not allow Himself to be. The psalmist says “He knows my thoughts “ (Psalm 94, 139)
We can’t outsmart Him with promises of what we’ll do “if”. He doesn’t make bargains. Satan tried it with Jesus. (Luke 4). But He does expect us to keep our vows to Him and to each other. Ananias and Sapphira found that to be true (Acts 5) we may not be dropping dead by not keeping our vows, but we are dying a slow death. Things that would’ve taken less time and stress, lack of peace, closed doors, lost opportunities, broken relationships, sickness and diseases, etc. can be a result of vows we’ve made. If we’d get on our faces before God and ask Him to show us why certain things are happening in our lives, He’d probably show you where your last act of disobedience to His Word was and or a broken vow you haven’t kept. Our words matter. That’s the negative impact of keeping our vows. But there’s always a positive side. 😓
Psalm 116 has become another of my favorites for many reasons. If you’ll take the time to read it, you’ll probably find some nuggets yourself. When you have experienced the faithfulness of God, you can’t help but want to make a heartfelt vow to Him. You just want to give Him your all, your everything! Let’s read together. If your hearts don’t burn with each line your wood is wet.
“I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: “ Lord, save me!” The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living. I trusted in the Lord when I said, “I am greatly afflicted”; in my alarm I said, “Everyone is a liar.” What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants. Truly I am your servant, Lord; I serve you just as my mother did; you have freed me from my chains. I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the Lord — in your midst, Jerusalem. Praise the Lord.” Psalms 116:1-19 NIV
The psalmist was overwhelmed by all the Lord had done for him. He was faced with and going through some terrible situations. Yet, when he cried out to the Lord, He heard and showed up. All this goodness and faithfulness led to a rhetorical question. “What shall I return to the Lord for all His goodness to me?I will lift up the cup of salvation (gratitude) and call on the Name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all His people.”
That’s how we successfully fulfill our vows. We serve a God who in all honesty needs nothing from us. There’s no material gift to give to the ONE who owns it all. But keeping our word or vow to Him refreshes, Honors and magnifies Him in the sight of those who need to know and experience Him. The psalmist asks, what shall I give to Him who needs nothing? He answers himself, I know what I will do! I’ll keep my vow! I’ll keep my promise to Him. But in order to be a successful vow keeper he did this first, which is what we’re not doing, and therefore failing at it. He first started off by lifting up the cup or remembering the goodness of God, the salvation of God, he started with gratitude, then he called on God’s Name, he called on the Name that will help him keep the vows he had made. You can’t keep anything of value or substance without divine help. That’s why we fail. I vowed I’d never have sex outside of marriage, I found out that my best effort without Jesus was a promise without the provision. I wasn’t asking God to keep me, I was gonna keep myself. I was ignorant of the fact that only divine intervention and protection would work. Now 33 years later and counting, I have kept my vow of celibacy because He’s keeping me. That’s only one area, but having learned what the psalmist did, now I make better decisions and vows. Vows I can keep because I put first things first.
He said “I will fulfill my vows in the presence of His people.” That’s accountability. When you make yourself accountable to people who share your faith and values, you are better able to keep your vows. When you isolate and practice self preservation, you’ll fail. He stated further that he would sacrifice a thank offering and call on the Name of the Lord. There it is again. He was going to offer something of value to the Lord, sacrifice means giving up what is precious to you for a greater purpose. Nothing was too great or precious to offer thanksgiving and gratitude for God’s goodness to him. But again the key to following through was , I will call on the Name of the Lord! God focused, God centered living enabled him to keep his vows, accountability and transparency kept him true to his word.
There are some things, people of God, that are impossible to accomplish without calling on the Name of the Lord. We weren’t meant to live this life of faith independent of our Creator. We have help. This is why the isolation and separation from assembling together with other believers is so satanic. God knows that we need each other. There’s strength in numbers. God said one can put a thousand to flight, but two can put ten thousand. When we make our vows or promises as in a wedding, we need witnesses, that’s accountability. God designed it, man didn’t. The psalmist got it right. May we reflect on what we have promised or vowed to the Lord, and call on His Name to help us follow through and keep our vows.
Heavenly Father in the Name of Jesus , I repent for breaking my vows to you. With my whole heart I truly desire to honor and please you, but sometimes I fall short of the goal. Thank you for allowing second chances and for teaching me that the way to successfully keep my vow is to first acknowledge that I can’t keep them without You. Thank you for lovingly correcting me and helping me get back on track. Thank you for giving me more opportunities to make and keep my vow to you and others. In Jesus Name. Amen
“But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” Matthew 5:34-37 NIV
Written by permission of the Holy Spirit