Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Fulfilling Your Vows (Ecclesiastes 5:4-7)

"When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it" (Eccl. 5:4).

The beginning of Ecclesiastes 5 deals with the ordinary service of God. The next four verses relate to a special exercise, namely the making of vows. Very often vows are a part of the worship of God; this was especially true under the old dispensation. A vow before God in the midst of His worship is most commonly seen in our generation as part of the wedding ceremony. In this most sacred service, two people make a vow to God and to one another. If one or both parties break the vow, they have committed a grievous sin against God.

The Preacher tells us that it would be better for one not to make a vow to God than to make it and fail to fulfill it. The nature of man is so unstable that people commonly forsake their vows. Therefore, one must seriously consider the consequences of making a vow to God. “A solemn engagement advisedly made with God is a transaction needing much prayer and consideration,” Bridges wrote. “It should rest upon the clear warrant of God’s Word. It should concern a matter really important, suitable, and attainable. It should be so limited, as to open a way for disentanglement under unforeseen contingencies, or altered circumstances.” If the vow is made impulsively, without prior thought and due consideration, it will most likely be a hindrance. But if the vow is made with much thought and prayer, it can be a great help. “Some special season of covenanting with God may be valuable, to strengthen the weakness of the young disciple, to remind him when he is apt to forget, and to humble him in the consciousness of short-coming or fall.”

All vows must be faithful to God’s revealed will. “Vows contrary to God’s Word cannot bind a right conscience,” Bridges writes. “A vow cannot make that right which is morally wrong. What is contrary to the law can never be a legitimate engagement to the Law-giver.… ‘Know’—saith Bishop Sanderson—‘that neither oath, vow, nor other tie whatever is allowed by Almighty God to bind thee to sin!’ ” If you have made a impulsive vow that would cause you to forsake your God-given responsibilities or cause you to sin, you are not bound to fulfill that vow. Confess your folly in making the vow, but do not heap sin upon sin because of rash decision.

If you have made any vow to God, take immediate steps to fulfill it. If it is a long-term vow, ask God to give you the strength to remain faithful to your vow. If you have made any oath that causes you to do something contrary to God’s Word, confess your folly in making the vow, but do not keep the vow if it will cause you to sin in any way.