What is a vow? The dictionary defines it as a solemn promise; one by which a person is bound to an act, service or condition. It’s an oath, pledge, troth, a word. The most common vows are the ones made by husbands and wives in their marriage ceremony. We promise to love, honor… until death do we part. Interestingly, the Old Testament is full of men making vows to God and to one another. The Bible doesn’t say that God vows to us – it says that He has given us His Word; His Promises. He is not a man that can lie; He is able to keep His promises – unlike us.
I remember lying on my bed with a ruptured disc for 3 days. I was in so much pain, I couldn’t move – I’ll spare you the details! I was so desperate for God to touch me and heal my back that I started to ‘bargain’ with Him. “God, if you heal me and take this pain away, I vow I’ll never watch TV again!” (I was really reaching for stuff I thought would move Him). Come on, haven’t some of you been there (at least in desperation or ignorance)? “God, If you get me out of this mess, I promise to (whatever).” “God, if you help me through this, I promise to serve You for the rest of my life!” Oh, how we think like mere men (or little children).
God did miraculously heal my back on the 3rd day. I was so amazed by what He did that I really didn’t know how to respond – almost like I needed to pay Him back or something. Oh wait, I vowed if He healed my back I wouldn’t ever watch TV again. So, I started out keeping my vow to Him pretty well, sort of… but, then I forgot and flipped on the TV. I instantly felt so overwhelmed by this self-condemning thing that came on me. What was I thinking? Who am I kidding? What a deceptive web the enemy weaves! God is the author of our FAITH, not our confusion or deception!
I finally stopped, looked into His face and cried out to Him, “Daddy… save me! I can’t make sense of this! Show me what’s going on!” I saw myself as His little child; confused and upset by what had taken place. I repented of my ignorance and my emotions. I knew He was there, smiling at me and loving me as the perfect Father He is.
The understanding I gained was that it’s not wise to vow a vow to God, and if we do, we need to do it with His wisdom and understanding and then keep the decision we made to Him. A vow is really a choice we make out of our understanding at the time we make it. There is no bargaining or making deals with God. He has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness by the Blood of Jesus. There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. We are forgiven, we are accepted, we are the apple of His eye! He is the Father, we are His children. His Word instructs and corrects us and that is enough! He corrects us through His Word. There’s no punishment, no time-out, nor being grounded like some earthly parent would do. He’s (more than) happy to instruct us in the ways of Righteousness. Repentance is a way of life for the believer because we don’t know everything and He already knows when we are going to miss it. We’re learning – we are to practice righteousness and practice the Truth. (1 John 1:6, 1 John 3:10)
Ecclesiastes 5:4,5 says, “When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; For He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed. Better not to vow than to vow and not pay.”
Consequently, I’m not likely to vow a vow to God. It’s not like we are supposed to declare some hard and fast rules or regulations that we need to keep to stay in His grace. I do make a list of things I want to do for Him. #1 is loving Him more, then knowing Him more and loving my fellow man more. I desire to please Him in every way with my life, my thoughts and actions. I ask Him to correct and instruct me when I miss it. Most of all I’m aware of the blood covenant He’s made with me for all eternity! As His Bride, I vow to keep my part of the covenant with Him by loving Him with all my heart, mind, soul and strength; and to love others as myself. I know I can’t do any of this on my own. (My spirit is willing but my flesh is really stupid.) He is the one who first called us, who first loved us and He is the one who sustains and draws us. We can’t even come to Him or walk with Him without the help of His Holy Spirit who lives in us.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. Romans 8:14
Our walk with the Lord really boils down to obedience. Obeying the voice of God is the most important ‘vow’ we can make to Him and to ourselves. What is the voice of the God (especially if you can’t hear Him in your heart yet)? It is His voice inside of us, but mainly His Word. We need to read the Bible consistently – like we eat, drink and sleep. Not many of us miss a meal or a night’s sleep. Why would we not carve out a few minutes of our day to study the Bible and talk to God when we know it is so vital to our spiritual health? Like eating, drinking and sleeping is to our bodies, having our minds renewed by the Word and our fellowship with Him keeps us from all kinds of deception and error.
You do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. Matt. 22:29
God keeps His word, He keeps His promises to us. He is not a man that He can lie. We would do well to rely fully on the Holy Spirit to keep us in all of our ways and leave our vows for the marriage alter.