Many human vows are a joke so much that a mention of ‘I promise I will…’ is enough to crack ribs and break hearts, all at the same time. Most human vows tend to be a hoax so much that fulfilling a vow is more of a miracle as opposed to breaking it. Some human vows are a gloat so much that celebrating 30+ or so years in a commitment that’s supposed to be lifelong will arouse gasps, claps and wonderment.
Although we might be very sincere while making vows and promises, keeping them might be another ball game altogether. If we are flimsy with the vows we make to each other, so what happens when we make a vow to God? Solomon reminds us, ‘When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it’ Ecclesiastes 5:4. Although no one makes a vow to God with the intention of breaking it (obviously), most times we fall short.
Here is a real account:
Peter to Jesus: “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.”
A few moments later: Another girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
Peter: He denied it again with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”
(Matthew 26:35, 71-72)
Sometimes, like Peter, we make a vows to God. What we don’t realise is that we failed to keep the end of our bargain from the onset (thanks Adam… and Eve… and the flesh). You see, ‘the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak’ Matthew 26: 41. But in spite of this, ‘if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself’ 2 Timothy 2:13. God proves true to His Word when earlier, before Peter disowned Him, He had made this ‘vow’ to him.
Jesus to Peter: “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
A few years later: While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. It is through Peter that “God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.”
(Matthew 16:18, Acts 10:44, 11:18)
*As Jesus promised, the Church of Christ was built through Peter – encompassing all nations and races and overcoming much opposition that had ensued*
Even though Peter could not fulfil the vow he made to God, God did not fail to fulfil His end of the bargain- even though Peter denied Him. Although Scripture warns that ‘if we deny him, he will deny us’ 2 Timothy 2:12, what covered Peter was his confession of Christ. In fact, Jesus made this ‘vow’ to Peter after He asked: ‘Who do you say I am?’ and Peter answered: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God’ Matthew 16:15-16. By that simple fact, Peter was covered as, ‘there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’ Romans 8:1.
Although vows made in love and truth through His grace mean much to God (even when we slack in some), most times it is better to ‘stand in awe of God’. Jesus seemed more impressed when Peter declared who He is, compared to when Peter told Him what nice things he would do for Him. While in God’s presence, it is more prudent to declare His great promises and thank Him for them, and for who He is. Because after all, as the saying goes, A Christian is not one who does great things for God, but one for whom God has done great things for.
Even though sometimes we might run our mouths to God and not measure up to our words, His promises and great faithfulness still stand- if we are in Christ. Unlike vows, a covenant originates from God. Since creation, God made covenants (Abrahamic, Noahic, Mosaic, Davidic etc.) and laid it for the individuals/Israelites to accept. Now, ‘Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant’ Hebrews 7:22. This ‘New Covenant’ is ‘founded on better promises’ Hebrews 8:6. Therefore, those in Christ, besides being partakes of all promises in the Bible, His covenant assures us that our relationship with Him is for life. It’s for keeps, simply because, ‘You did not choose me, but I chose you…’ John 15:16.
An awesome song on God’s promises: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5m09rqOoxE