There are various levels of commitment: Resolutions, Promises, Pledges, Oaths, and Vows. Many of us make resolutions around the beginning of the New Year which often fade and are abandoned shortly thereafter. Promises and pledges are taken somewhat more seriously, but are also sometimes reneged on due to new circumstances or simply inconvenience. Oaths are a more solemn and public determination to tell the truth and can carry penalties by governments if not followed. A vow is perhaps the most serious
of these commitments because it is made to God as an earnest declaration to tell the truth or act in a certain way.

Jesus took these type commitments very seriously when he said, “Do not swear at all..” and “…let your Yes be Yes and your No be No…” (Mt 5:33-37) He knew the often horrible consequences of rash vows. One of the Judges named Jephthah found this out
when he rashly vowed to the Lord that if given a victory over the Ammonites, “…he would sacrifice whatever came first out of his door when he returned.” It was his daughter and only child. (Jud 11:30-35) Peter exclaimed vehemently that, “Even if all fall away on account of you (Jesus), I never will.” (Mt 26: 33) Before the morning came he had done that very thing 3 times. (Mt 26:34, 69-75) Another example of a rash vow is that of the 49 Jews who formed a plot to kill Paul. They conspired with an oath to, “…neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul.” (Acts 23:12-14) But Paul’s nephew heard of the plot and told a Roman commander who then took Paul safely to Governor Felix. (Acts 23:16, 17, 23-24)

All of these people acted rashly without remembering that humans propose but God disposes. It is rash to act hastily without due consideration or do things recklessly or ill-considered. I wonder if it would serve as an early warning system if we would get the other type of rash (skin eruption) right before we started to act rashly?

—Jim Bailey