"Again, you have heard that the law of Moses says, 'Do not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.' But I say don't make any vows! If you say, 'By heaven!' it is a sacred vow because heaven is God's throne. And if you say, 'By the earth!' it is a sacred vow because the earth is His footstool. And don't say, 'By Jerusalem!' for Jerusalem in the city of the Great King. Don't even swear, 'By my head!' for you can't turn one hair white or black. Just say a simple, 'Yes, I will,' or 'No, I won't.' Your word is enough. To strengthen your promise with a vow shows that something is wrong.
Have you ever made a vow that you would come to regret? I'm sure everybody has at least once. I have. When I was a teenager in school (I went to a small private school), I was sitting at the high school lunch table. A couple a girls were talking about the upcoming kickball game, the one that took place everyday after we ate. One girl, named Joy, was saying how she was going to kick a home run. I started laughing, because here was this tiny girl, who wasn't the most coordinated person on the planet, bragging that she was going to kick a home run.
Needless to say, that didn't go over well. I was so confident of my judgement of her, that, after some barbs traded back and forth, I vowed that I would eat my shoe if she was able to kick that home run. In the end, I lucked out. My team stopped her at third. But it was too close for my comfort. I promised myself that I would never make a vow that I might come to regret again. And despite that promise, I still have made commitments that I have come to regret.
We all have promised and vowed stupid things, whether we meant to or not. A vow is not to be made lightly. I'm sure everyone who gets a divorce has come to regret the vows they made the day they got married. But that's a pretty extreme example. Let's look at one that's even more extreme.
"And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord. He said, "I will give to the Lord the first thing coming out of my house to greet me when I return in triumph. I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering." Judges 11:30-31
I'm sure most of us know the result of his poorly made vow, but let's take a look anyhow.
"When Jephthah returned home to Mizpah, his daughter - his only child - ran out to meet him, playing on a tambourine and dancing for joy. When he saw her, he tore his clothes in anguish..." Judges 11:35a
Now, there is some debate on what actually happened to her. Some say that she became like an Old Testament nun, forever a virgin. Others say he actually did sacrifice her. I say that I don't think that God would have let him go through with it, He stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac. And there were loopholes where he could have redeemed her. You can do your own research if you so desire. But the point is that he made a rash, stupid vow that he would come to regret.
Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 5:37 "To strengthen your promise with a vow shows that something is wrong." Jephthah didn't trust that God would deliver this victory to him, and so he promised God something that God didn't need or want. 1 Samuel 15:22a says, "But Samuel replied, 'What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices, or your obedience to His voice?"
Friends. don't get caught in a place of regretting what you have vowed to do. Let your "Yes," be "Yes," and your "No," be "No."
PS - That girl, Joy, back in my high school days? I married her ten years later. Funny how things work out.