Updated: Jul 16, 2018
Post by Pastor Jonathan Fox
So I preached a message a few Sundays back called "Inner Vows" and really enjoyed giving that content. (You can listen to that message here "Summer At Move - Week 5) However, what I know about certain messages is that they need clarification. The text was Matthew 5:33-37 (ESV)
“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil."
So, I had a few people ask me about the whole idea of inner vows and is there such thing as good vows. The short answer is no, there are no good vows. One person said, "What about wedding vows." To that I would reference the text above. Jesus is not talking about making a covenant and life long commitment to love someone and give your life to them even amidst pain, loss and even sickness. The vows Jesus is talking about have to do with preservation of self, which is the complete opposite. An inner vow usually stems from some trauma or painful event. We make vows to get an assurance of security so we can move forward. There were several times that I was hurt by older men in my life and I made a vow, "I will never be that close with an older man in authority over me again." I did not realize that this statement (inner vow) had now become a restraint to my life. Every time I interacted with older men, even if by only a few years, I was guarded, assumptive and overanalyzed every one of their words and actions. I soon realized that my experience from years past was shaping my current interactions. I was missing out on mentor relationships and meaningful experiences because of an inner vow I had made and was now obligated to fulfill at every turn.
This is exactly why Jesus teaches us to be yes or no people and not to make blanketed statements about a situation that carry over from moment to moment. Are we to be cautious, of course. Are we to learn from our past, absolutely. But a vow takes that to an unhealthy place that robs you of the joy and peace of the moments to come. I pray that you and I could be the kind of people that Jesus encourages with a more life giving and free way of interacting with life situations, a simple yes or no.