Monday, August 26, 2013

A Thought for Monday 8/26/13

“Walk prudently when you go to the house of God, and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil.  Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God.  For God is in heaven, and you on earth.  Therefore let your words be few, for a dream comes through much activity, and a fool’s voice is known by his many words.  When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; for He has no pleasure in fools.  Pay what you have vowed – better not to vow than to vow and not pay.”  Ecclesiastes 5:1-5

The “vow”, like repentance, is a term not often used in Church language today; and because it is an often neglected “old” term, we Christians do not seriously consider the implications of our “rash” words (clergy and laity alike!).  Jesus Himself required of His potential followers to “count the cost” before making a “vow” (that is, a commitment) to follow Him (Luke 14:28-33), understanding that there is much ahead of us we cannot see or appreciate until it is upon us.

We “vow” before the Lord when we join the Church to support our church with our prayers, presence, gifts, and service.  We “vow” before the Lord that we will love our spouses, “until death parts us”, as the Lord loves the Church when we marry.  We “vow” before the Lord as we present our children for the Sacrament of baptism that our children will be taught in and by the Church what it means to follow the Lord.  The congregation itself enters into that “vow” when the children are presented as baptized members of the Covenant to support the parents and take their part in the responsibility for raising that child in the Christian tradition, and yes, to hold the parents accountable for the “vows” they made just as the parents can hold the church accountable when help is needed but delayed.  This must all be done with ample forethought; not strictly according to tradition and certainly not on an emotional whim.

Things rarely work out the way we expect them to, especially when we enter into a “vow” simply because it seemed like a good idea at the time.  Our Lord does indeed understand our fickle nature, but there is nothing in the Scriptures which may suggest that our Lord does not take us at our word.  The “vow” may have been relegated to the “old” covenant by our careless and incomplete understanding of New Testament theology, but this is our failure, not a valid excuse – our failure not only in our careless words but also in our failure to seriously consider what a relationship with the Lord through His Church is about.  It is akin to our “taking the Lord’s name in vain”; that is, for no useful and holy purpose – “for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His Name in vain” (Exodus 20:7).

We must all seriously consider the “vows” we have made to the Lord by invoking His Name; and if that “vow” has not been or is not being repaid, we must not “delay” in making right that profound wrong.  The Lord has given us Life; the very least we can do is to take Him at His Word since it is clear He takes us at our word, weak though it may often be.



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