Remembering God: The Key to A Profitable Life

THE FUTILITY OF MAKING RASH VOWS TO GOD

Ecclesiastes 5:1-7

SCC

7/28/02

Jerry A Collins

® Are vows an appropriate way to determine what we will do?

What happens if we do not keep a vow to God?

What are futile and meaningless dreams?

Last night I watched the story of four high school girls from a well-to-do city decide on a whim to rob a convenient store in town. Sitting together over a coke, bored they later said with life, enjoying the high of drugs, one of them mentioned robbery as a way to get some extra money for more drugs and a good time. Her father had a gun should could steal and use. Right then and there they rashly promised to do something that would alter the rest of their lives. One of the girls was being interviewed from prison, serving a 7 year prison term she received when they were finally caught seven robberies later. As she wept, she said many times I only wish I could take it all back. I wish I would never have promised to do such a thing. A high school senior who has been in prison now for over three years. Letís look at this from a different direction. Have you ever made a rash promise to God? One that you would never back up with commitment? Maybe you have heard the Word of God and vowed to never get into debt. Or after hearing the Word you decided before God to make it right with another but you never followed thru. Or after hearing Godís Word you decided to schedule some kind of regular prayer, scale down your lifestyle to have more to give to Godís work, plan more time with your kids, to respect your parents and stop rebelling, give up worrying, increase your faith, walk with God, control your thot life, look on the interests of others. God sees and hears each personalized vow or promise we make to Him. We all have made many during the years of our Christian lives. How does God view these vows we make to Him? What do we need to know in order to avoid making rash promises to God?

1. WE ARE WARNED AGAINST MAKING RASH VOWS TO GOD 1

In Israel the place that exemplified hearing the Word of God was the Temple in Jerusalem. Here the Word of God was read, expounded upon and the people urged to hear and heed it. Sacrifices were offered and explanation was made as to what was meant. The Law was read and the people learned and listened to the Word of God in this context. So Solomon warns them that when they go there they must guard their steps or enter thoughtfully with an expectation to be taught something. They were to draw near and listen. James tells us to do the same thing today 1:19. So much of who we are becoming is determined by how we receive the Word of God into our lives. Today our gatherings to hear and heed the Word of God are different. We have no Temple to go to, we are that Temple. We are free to gather in all kinds of ways, on Sundays like this, one on one discipleship and small groups, Bible studies, conferences, youth events, menís, womenís studies. The constant tho is how we receive the Word of God, to listen carefully. However, we can foolishly make hasty and ill-considered promises to God that Solomon calls the sacrifice of fools in vs 1 and the speech or voice of a fool in vs 3.

2. RASH VOWS ARE REBUKED FOR THE EVIL THEY PRODUCE 1B-3

The outcome of such folly is not apparent to those making these impulsive promises to God vs 1b. They are doing evil he says. They are doing evil vs 2 by possibly attempting to bribe God with vows like God I will give more money if you will give me that promotion I want. Or possibly because the one making vows to God is not determined to obey and will be guilty of hypocrisy or superficial religiosity both condemned by God and Christ. This evil is also called sin in vs 6 and sin is always something I do against God. So from Godís point of view a rash promise, one that is deliberately not kept or intended to be but forgotten, is evil and sinful. How frivolous and arrogant can we humans act? Solomon reminds us that God is in heaven and we are on earth. Therefore our words should be few. Vs 3 picks up this thot by comparing fools who babble on relentlessly with their promises like a man who has had afantacies and dreams produce a flurry of activity in his life but accomplishes nothing toward it. So also is a fool with his many words or promise and vows to God accomplishes nothing and in the process is guilty of sin. Only a lot of spinning of the wheels.

3. PAY WHATEVER VOWS YOU MAKE TO GOD 4-5

The lesson here is that God takes our promises to Him seriously. He expects us to fulfill whatever promises it is we make to Him. He hears them and He takes us at our word. Once we make a promise to God it had better be kept just as He kept His promises to Israel and to us. We are even warned to not delay in paying it. Donít wait until it is more convenient to do so. It may never be. Besides you gave your word. Annanias and Sapphira lied and experienced Gods judgment. He takes no delight in fools vs 4. Like them, we learn in vs 5 that it is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. It would have been better for them this way but they decided that God would accommodate them in hopes of gaining greater esteem among believers in the early church. This ought to teach us to be careful about what we promise God. This is the path of a fool and it only invites into our lives the judgment of God. So determine to keep the promises you make to God.

4. THERE IS NO ESCAPE FROM A PROMISE MADE TO GOD 6-7

(1) There are no excuses for not keeping a vow to God vs 6. You cannot tell God to forget it you did not really mean it. I am not interested in keeping that vow God. How many have said that about their wedding vows for instance. This is sobering. Claiming that a vow was a mistake would not excuse you. (Deut 23:21-23 commands payment)

(2) Godís anger may lead to the loss of all you have worked for vs 6. You are dealing with the author of life itself. God is not cruel and heartless, he is loving but he is a realist. Donít play games with Him. He can make all you have worked for, all you have hoped for, become futile and lost. that is the warning.

(3) The remedy is to fear God vs 7. You can avoid provoking Godís anger and judgment by not being careless, by not offering excuses for your vows. Let that kind of fear motivate you to pay your vows to Him.

In Matt 5:33-37 Jesus taught us

(1) Not to make false vows

(2) Not to make any vows because you cannot control future circumstances

(3) You are only as good as your word