For the third year, I am attending a GrandCamp at the YMCA in Estes Park. Riley and Caed are both here, because “Gramps” [Mark] Land from Ohio has joined us. Josh Mulvihill is one of the foremost researchers on grandparenting, even though he his a young dad. It was an honor today to have in our morning session, three individuals who are committed to Christian grandparenting and have all written books on the topic. Along with Josh is Cavin Harper (founder of the Christian Grandparenting Network) and Paul and Diane Miller from Colorado Springs who have just recently released their very practical and insight filled book on the “Parenting Triangle.”
BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY….. “When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.” Ecclesiastes 5:4,5 ESV
The verse above is our “verse for the day” at GrandCamp. The overall theme is from 2 Timothy 2:15 where Paul calls Timothy to “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
As we challenge our grandchildren and ourselves to be those “approved by God and not ashamed” the focus of our verse today was on “keeping your promises.” The concept of “your word is your bond” seems to be found less and less in our society. Deals that were “sealed by a handshake” have given way to written and notarized contracts that seem to be broken or treated with contempt.
Solomon reminds us the highest vow or promise is that which we make before God. Promises are not only to be kept, they are not be to delayed in being fulfilled. It seems the implication is that delay in keeping a promise, is the same as not keeping it at all.
Solomon, says God sees that one who reneges on a promise as a “fool.” This is more than just someone who uses poor judgment but in the Old Testament this word indicated one who was, “morally bankrupt or debase.” It reveals not just an undisciplined life, but a chasm-sized character flaw of the heart.
Making a promise or a vow, should not be treated lightly and it should be reserved for only those actions that you will commit to fulfilling. Solomon says, “It’s better not to vow, than to vow and not fulfill it.” At times people will be “pressured” for a “promise.” The wise view this with grave consideration, fools are quick to commit.
I found it interesting that when I was first elected to the State Legislature, the most frequent warning was, “remember, your word is your bond.” If you made a commitment on an issue the expectation was that you would stand by that commitment. To fail to do so, was a sure way to lose any sense of confidence and integrity in the eyes of colleagues and others.
The idea of an oath including the words, “so help me God” was not as much a “religious expression” as one that showed the seriousness of the pledge that was being made. It was “before” God and it was to be accomplished with the “help” of God. And at many times that is exactly what it takes to fulfill our vows.
Prayer for Today…. Lord, help us to be people of our word. When we see these instructions in the Old Testament we realize that it is a challenge that has characterized all time. In our day of broken promises and promises unfulfilled, help our words and actions be pleasing to You.