Core Christian Value
Promises to God are very serious promises and are called “vows”. Make no vows you do not intend to keep because promises to God must be kept; same for vows to your friends and family.
How many times have you said to someone “but you promised.” You were saying that promises count and that a promise should not have been made if you did not mean it. Listen to what the Scriptures have to say about promises (vows, oaths, covenants).
“For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, ‘Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.’ And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.” HEBREWS 6:13-18 NKJV
Here we see that God promised to bless Abraham and his descendants. God also said that since men make oaths which “end all dispute” that His oaths too are immutable, confirmed and that He can not lie. An oath is serious business, not to be entered into lightly. Listen to a key teaching from our Lord about oaths:
“When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it; for the LORD your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin to you. But if you abstain from vowing, it shall not be sin to you. That which has gone from your lips you shall keep and perform, for you voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God what you have promised with your mouth.” DEUTERONOMY 23:21 NKJV. You can see that “oaths not made” are not a problem. In fact, if you abstain from vowing, it is not a sin.
You have heard it said, “I swear, by all that is Holy, I swear on my mother’s name and so on.” This sort of swearing is also advised against.
“…you have heard that it was said to those of old,’ You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” MATTHEW 5:33-37 NKJV
God made a promise to Israel as well. “Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed;” GENESIS 26:3-4 NKJV
Do you tend to make promises that are not necessary? Do you find yourself saying “I swear that is true?” What is the risk in making an oath? Can you think of a way to make a promise in a more tentative way? Is a “conditional: promise okay? Have you heard people say “Lord willing” I will do such and so?