Keeping Vows and Consideration for Others
Open Your Bible
Deuteronomy 23:1-25, Deuteronomy 24:1-22, Matthew 5:31-37, Matthew 19:3-9
We go to great legal lengths to hold individuals and corporations to their word, with airtight contracts that detail all the terms of agreement. And when a breach of contract happens, it’s recognized as a serious offense. Today’s reading reminds us of the importance of making good on our word.
Be careful to do whatever comes from your lips, because you have freely vowed what you promised to the LORD your God (Deuteronomy 23:23).
In the time of the Old Testament, vow-keeping involved promising God an offering or action in response to His help or provision concerning a particular matter. In the New Testament, Jesus references these instructions, asserting that our “yes” should be “yes” and our “no” should mean “no” (Matthew 5:37). We are to be people of our word, a people who live truthfully—in front of God and among our neighbors.
When we commit to something, we do it with the intention of following through. Our words are an expression of our character, and we honor God when they are honest and authentic. Keeping our word is also a show of respect and care to those to whom we gave our word. How disappointing empty promises are. I’ll be there…I’ll pay you back next week… Yes, I’ll do that. Commitment without the intention to follow through is not only disappointing to others, but it also dishonors God.
Sometimes we say yes in the moment, or we overcommit. These days, it’s easy to over promise our time and even money without realizing that we’ve done it. Sometimes, we’ve tried our best to keep our word, but we just can’t. These things happen; but they should be exceptions. God’s instructions in Deuteronomy and Matthew remind us of the way in which we should live our lives.
They also challenge us to be honest with ourselves and identify opportunities for growth related to honoring our commitments. Perhaps, we do overcommit far too often. Or perhaps, lately, it’s just seemed hard to follow through on even the smaller things. These could be signals, pointing to a need to reduce busyness or to reevaluate our time management priorities.
There’s a sweet grace in Jesus’s “yes” and “no” instructions. We don’t have to say yes to everything. We get to say no sometimes, even often! Living truthfully brings balance to our lives, allowing us to be good stewards with the time and resources the Lord has entrusted to us.
Let’s continue to honor God with truthfulness in our words and actions. And let’s ask Him to continue to help us to live honestly among others.