We recently encountered the rather colorful figure of Jephthah in our study through the book of Judges. In case you need a primer, Jephthah made a rather absurd vow, promising to sacrifice “whoever came out of his house first” if God would make him successful in battle. When that turned out to be his own daughter, he actually put her on the altar and killed her.
There’s a lot to say about that particular vow (you can hear the whole message here), but our Pastor of Counseling, Brad Hambrick, has some good reflections on what to do after we’ve made a ridiculously stupid promise to God:
God is not pleased or amused because we’ll do extreme things; which portrays God as an immature teenage audience chanting “Do it! Do it!” God is pleased with us because he sees us clothed in the righteousness of Christ when we accept his death on the cross as the penalty for our sin.
Part of the reason we are prone to promise God stupid things in the first place is because we think he’s impressed with our grandiosity. The sooner we relinquish this idea the better. Therefore, we should repent not just of our stupid promise, but the immature view of God which led us to think he would be impressed by it.
Until we have a right view of God, nothing we do to please him will be wise or healthy. That leads us to the second point. We should learn from false beliefs and mature from the impulsivity that both (a) put us in the mess that tempted us to make the stupid promise and (b) made the stupid promise seem like it would increase the probability God would answer our prayer.
When God sees repentance producing this kind of maturity, he smiles like a good father. God is not a prosecuting attorney trying to catch us in the verbal contract of our past words. Neither the mean attorney or taunting teenager image represents God well or mature us. God is a good father wanting us to learn from our every mistake.
When you see your relationship with God in that light, you will not take your words lightly anymore.
God would rather forgive an empty promise in a maturing child than the offensive action of a wayward child still embracing their folly. God is more glorified through forgiving us for making-breaking stupid promises than he is through us keeping stupid promises and misrepresenting what it means to have “great faith” to the world.
Rest the rest of Brad’s blog post here.