To Do or Not To Do

Have you ever made a vow or a promise you couldn't keep? “I promise I'll clean the dishes.” “I promise I’ll fix the door this weekend.” “I promise I’ll do better next time.” Then “next time” comes, and you don’t do better. Maybe the dishes remain in the sink for the next three days, or the door is still not able to close all the way for the next week. I believe this is what Jesus meant when He said not to make vows.

“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made. But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. - Matthew 5:33-37 NIV

It’s not that we mean to break our promise. We are simply human, and God knows this. If we were called to perfection, then keeping promises or vows wouldn’t be an issue. But we were never called to perfection. We are called to a relationship with God modeled to us by Jesus, who is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. His teachings are vital to our understanding of God the Father. In reality, Jesus is trying to teach us that by simply saying “yes” or “no,” we are free from the bondage of approval; and if we falter and cannot fulfill our “yes” or “no,” then we have only to answer to that, not a promise or a vow. 

JOURNAL: When you make a promise, what is your motivation?

We may make promises because it is in our nature to try to convince someone they can trust us or to persuade them to leave us alone until we complete the task. Those ideas are rooted in human nature and are usually done to seek the approval of others. Instead, we should seek God’s approval. 

ACTIVATION: Concerning decisions and hard choices, seek God’s approval rather than man’s. Ask yourself, what would Jesus do in this situation as opposed to another human being.  

PRAYER: God, help me to posture my heart toward You when making decisions. I invite the Holy Spirit in at all times so that I can walk in Your will, as opposed to mine. Amen.  
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