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  • Joe Norton

The Keeping of Vows (1/7/2024)

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” (Deuteronomy 23:21-22).


Making vows was a common practice in Old Testament times, but Moses here clarifies that it was a liberty; however, if a person did vow to do something, he was obligated to do it to avoid committing a sin against God. Vowing was “a promise made to God or to some other person to do some good thing.”


This passage reminds us of Jesus’ statement in the Sermon on the Mount: “Let your ‘Yes be Yes’ and your ‘No, No.’  For whatever is more than these is from the evil one” (Matthew 5:37). Jesus is teaching about truth—He says the word of one of His disciples should be enough to confirm the truth of a situation without extra dramatic declarations.


So, both the Old and New Testaments emphasize the necessity of exercising care in making declarations of intent. Jesus’ teaching here is comparable to lessons about total honesty taught throughout the New Testament. 


For us, living in the Christian Age, the lesson is that whatever we promise to do must be true, it must be sincere (from our heart), and it must be within our ability to perform it. And, as well, we must keep our word without fail.


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