4When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. 5It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. 6Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands? 7For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear.
(Ecclesiastes 5:1-7 ESV)
Continuing the subject matter he began yesterday, King Solomon describes further what our attitude toward God should be with the topic of vows.
It’s actually quite simple. When we make a vow to God we should fulfill our promise without delay. Notice once again that Solomon says “when” not “if”. We’ve all made vows to God. And we’ve all broken them.
One type of vow God takes very seriously is marriage vows. Unfortunately, way too many people break their wedding vows without giving it second thought.
Often we make promises to God with our completion of the promise contingent upon Him doing something for us first. We promise to go to church more, be nicer, or be more charitable if He will deliver us from some difficulty. But then we forget the vow when the difficulty passes.
God associates anyone who breaks a vow with fools who speak without thinking.
It is better that we not vow than vow and not pay. There is no harm in not making a promise to God. But it is not acceptable for us to go back on our word, saying it was a mistake.
Once the vow is made, we are obligated to fulfill it, even to our own detriment [Leviticus 27:9-10; Deuteronomy 23:21-23; Psalm 15; Matthew 5:33, 37]. Therefore we should think through our promises before we make them. Integrity matters to God.
When we break a vow God gets angry and may destroy the work of our hands. That is, we may have to endure some sort of punishment in order to teach us the importance of being honest and trustworthy.
The problem is our thoughts get ahead of our reasoning. Such thoughts are nothing more than dreams. They are not reality until we actually go through with them.
What we plan on doing doesn’t matter. It is what we do (or don’t do) that matters. Not fulfilling a promise is vanity – it is emptiness and not only does not please God, but it angers Him because it is tantamount to a lie.
It’s better to live a more intentional life – one without foolish promises. We must fear making God angry with rash vows that we do not keep.
God takes what we say very seriously and He expects us to also [Acts 5:1–11]. This is because God Himself has made many promises to individuals, the human race, and adopted members of His family (Christians). And He has kept those promises.
If we are going to make promises back to Him then we are to do like He does – we are to be true to our word.
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