Today’s reading: Numbers 28-30.
God holds us accountable for keeping our word because he is a promise-keeping God. By learning what he celebrates we learn who he is. His condemnation of one who doesn’t keep a vow tells us something about the importance of honesty and faithfulness, but it tells us more about God’s character.
This is what the LORD commands: When a man makes a vow to the LORD or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said. Numbers 30:1-2
God wants us to be like him; he made us in his image, after all. We act like God when we are true to our word. It’s important that God be trustworthy for many reasons, but to suggest a few:
- He must be faithful to his word if we are to expect answers to prayer
- He must be reliable if we are to count on him for salvation
- He must be unchanging if we are to know how he wants us to live
- He must prove trustworthy if we are to love him instead of fearing what he may do to harm us
Our truthfulness should begin with God. If you make a promise to God, keep it. Did you say you would attend church regularly? Then go. Did you vow to give back to God financially? Don’t fail to do so. Did you say you would pray more, read the Bible regularly, obey God’s commands? Be faithful.
We should be honest with others because our truthfulness or lack of it reflects back on God – our maker and the one we are supposed to look like. I think Jesus was talking about our honesty with others when he said we should not make oaths at all but just let our yes be yes and our no be no. Matthew Henry said, “The worse men are, the less they are bound by oaths; the better they are, the less there is need for them.” Sometimes we swear to make someone believe we are more trustworthy. Instead, our history of reliability should make these oaths unnecessary.
What causes us to break our promises? I’ll venture that we often do an unconscious calculation that we will reap more benefit in the short-term, and that it is not so likely that God will hold us accountable in the long run. If so, our math is all wrong. God has promised that he will hold us to account, and he will remember the promises we make. Numbers drives home the point that God values truthfulness and will discipline us if we break our word.
How about you? What causes you to keep or break your promises?