Have you ever come to a crossroads in your life, and made a promise or a vow to God that if He would do something, you would do something, or stop doing something for that matter? I know I have, and in the immaturity of my walk with the Lord I didn’t realize what I was doing, and have broken them numerous times. This is why I no longer make them. What does the bible say about making promises to God though?
Today I tackle another reader request and hope you will find encouragement about this topic. Have something you would like covered? Send me a message and I will add it to the list.
The Importance and Power In Our Words
First, let us remember the importance and power of our words. They have the power of life and death as we read in Proverbs 18:21,
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
Our words are the overflow of the heart; which is the fruit of what Christ is doing within us that determines if the tree (us) is good or bad.
Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the Day of Judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. – Matthew 12:33-37 NASB
This is why it is important in a world that has become filled with noise and idle words, to be aware of what you are speaking to the Lord, your spouse, your family, and your world. You have the power to bring life and death. Be wise in the words that you speak.
The Consequences of Rash Decisions
Probably one of the most notable Bible stories about making rash decisions is that of Jephthah in the book of Judges. Jephthah was fighting the Ammonites and made a vow to the Lord. He said,
If You will indeed give the sons of Ammon into my hand, then it shall be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the sons of Ammon, it shall be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.
The Lord answered him and gave him victory. What Jephthah didn’t expect was his one and only child to come running out of the door to greet him upon his return home. Two months later he offered her as a burnt offering to uphold his vow.
This is why we must be slow to speak, especially in making promises. Below are two more verses about not making rash decisions and promises to God.
It is a trap to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider one’s vows. – Proverbs 20:25 NIV
Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few. For the dream comes through much effort and the voice of a fool through many words. When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it; for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow! It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Do not let your speech cause you to sin and do not say in the presence of the messenger of God that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry on account of your voice and destroy the work of your hands? For in many dreams and in many words there is emptiness. Rather, fear God. – Ecclesiates 5:2-7
When we act or react rashly, we are doing so foolishly. The best we can do is pause, pray, and proceed rather than recklessly making a promise to God.
We Don’t Know The Future
We often resort to making deals and promises with God out of uncertainty and fear because we do not know what the future holds. This is exactly why we do not need to make such vows.
Since we do not know the future, we also do not know if we will be able to keep and maintain those vows. We are fallen and prone to misjudgments. We do not know what tomorrow holds for us (James 4:14), or our ability to keep that vow. Imagine how Jephthah felt when he realized it was his daughter that was going to have to die.
I can tell you personally, I often think back to the promises that I made in my young years of following the Lord and how I had failed to keep them because I did not realize what the future was going to bring for me.
If we believe His word and stand upon it as truth, then we do not need to make promises or vows, we need only to trust when he says, he will make all things work together for our good (Romans 8:28). This means trusting Him even if things get a little scary or difficult at times.
God is in control, not us. When we react rashly and try to con God into doing what we think to be best by making a promise, we may end up like Jephthah.
I don’t think it is wise or necessary to make a vow to the Lord (or anyone), simply allow your yes to be yes, and your no to be no, (Matthew 5:33-37).
If you have made a vow, I would say by all means do your best to uphold it, or if you feel like you are unable to, take it to the Lord and confess your inability to keep it because you made it recklessly.
If you make one and break it (or have broken it), it is not unforgivable; confess your failing, and move forward. The Lord knows your heart.
One of the great things about living under the New Covenant is grace in Jesus Christ. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1).
I will leave you with this,
But most of all, my brothers and sisters, never take an oath, by heaven or earth or anything else. Just say a simple yes or no, so that you will not sin and be condemned. – James 5:12
The enemy will try to trap you in your words against the Father, hence he is the accuser. Be wise in your words, and don’t worry about making promises to God, just trust Him. I believe with spiritual maturity will come more and more ease of trusting Him to take care of you.