We go through all kinds of hoops in order to try to ensure that someone will keep the promises that they’ve made. When we’re younger, we ask them to cross their heart or “pinky swear.” As we get older, we have contracts that are signed, and hands that are raised. We do these things because we want to convey the seriousness of the matter. We want to make sure that in this instance there is a commitment to the truth.
The ironic thing is that if we can’t accept what people say without making them going through these shenanigans there’s little reason that we can believe what they say with them. It’s why Scripture commands believers to “let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes” and your ‘no’ be ‘no'” (Ja. 5;12). There shouldn’t need to be extra provisions in order to ensure that Christ followers will do what they say.
Yet I find that sometimes the commitments that Christians are most flippant about are the commitments that they’ve made before God. Perhaps because I work at a college, it’s not unusual for me to hear about people (usually girls) who have pledged to refrain from dating for a time in order to focus on their relationship with their Savior. Almost invariably, sometime during that time period someone will express interest in them, and, if the interest is mutual, the commitment to that promise will quickly evaporate. Maybe the thought is that God couldn’t have anticipated this great person who would have come into their life, and so they feel like they should be released from that commitment. Or maybe they feel like they weren’t really that serious about the commitment to begin with. I’m not sure. Yet from the time I was in college until now, I’ve seen it happen again and again.
It’s not just in these commitments, however, that there is an apparent disregard for the vows we make to God. We pledge that if something we desire happens, then will respond in a certain way. We swear that if we just get this one thing, we’ll never ask for anything else again. We promise to sacrifice more, love better, give more and be different, yet we often break these commitments within minutes of giving them.
I supposed it’s because we can’t see the Person that we are making our pledge to. However, it’s been helpful to me is to think of the commitments that I’ve made to God in the same way that I think of my marriage vows. Just like my husband rightly expects exclusivity as the result of the promises I’ve made, God has the right to expect that we would keep the promises that we’ve made to Him. I wouldn’t be able to “justify” a relationship with someone else, just like someone who is single and has committed to abstaining from relationships for a time can’t “justify” pursuing a relationship simply because their circumstances has changed. God should rightly expect that we would be committed to keeping the promises that we’ve made to Him. The fact that we can’t see Him doesn’t mean that the promises we’ve made are any less real. He expects faithfulness to our commitments just like we expect from those who make promises to us.
The easy way to address this situation is to not take vows lightly – the vows that bring you into a relationship with someone else, or the vows that you’ve made to focus on your relationship with God, or any vows that you make standing before our great and mighty King. There will be times that you’ll be challenged to keep those vows – where the promise you’ve made doesn’t seem worth the sacrifice to keep them – but for the Christian the commitment should be to remaining faithful; after all God has and will continue to remain faithful to us.