1. The Vows We Break
Many of us may have taken wedding vows before God, that runs something like this: “..to hold you from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part… in the presence of God I make this vow”. We make promises to “love and to cherish, till death”, to be faithful, honest, to love/honor/submit to one another, through the best and worst, to love as Christ loved the church, etc. Yet we know that most of us would break many of these vows at different levels, with impunity, without even thinking.
Watchman Nee said: “If we know that the aim of the Holy Spirit is to lead man to the place of self-control, we shall not fall into passivity but shall make good progress in spiritual life. ‘The fruit of the Spirit is self-control'”.
2. Let Your Words Be Few
King Solomon gives some sane advice in Ephesians 5:1-6 “When you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools… Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart… let your words be few. A dream comes when there are many cares, and many words mark the speech of a fool. When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin”.
3. Let Your ‘Yes’ Be ‘Yes,’ and Your ‘No,’ ‘No’
Jesus adds some perspective in Matthew 5:33 – “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”. Jesus was not saying that oaths are wrong per se, but that our reliability and trustworthiness should be so high all the time, that we do not even need to swear on an oath.
3.1. Credibility of the Church
Many in the church, who take the name of Jesus routinely make promises while borrowing money from others but do not fulfill the promise. If any, the church is an unfortunate hotbed for such activity/abuse, as the church is a place where one can find people who may be willing to lend money without a signed contract (in the name of God or as service to God, etc).
This is one of the many reasons why the credibility of the church is at such low levels. So those of us who may be concerned about the credibility of the church should take these words of Jesus seriously: “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one” (Matt 5:37). The church is the people, not a building/institution, so the credibility of the church is the credibility of the people.