The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 NASB)
I have been studying through the book of Ecclesiastes and I want to just share from the section I was studying this morning.
Everything that the author of the book says throughout can all be summed up in the last two verses in the book. Nothing that is done or accomplished in this life is worth doing unless one truly loves and reveres God and seeks to obey Him.
Everything according to the preacher writing Ecclesiastes is "vanity, empty, futile, worthless," unless done with the right and correct motives and for the glory of God. You can amass all the wealth and prestige you can in this life but without the Creator God at the center of it, then it amounts you nothing.
When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it; for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow! It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Do not let your speech cause you to sin and do not say in the presence of the messenger of God that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry on account of your voice and destroy the work of your hands? For in many dreams and in many words there is emptiness. Rather, fear God. (Ecclesiastes 5:4-7 NASB)
Too many people will say things such as, "God, if you will just get me out of this, I will live for you! "God, if you will just fix this for me, I will do what you ask!" "God, if you will please give me what I want, then I can finally serve you."
These are very dangerous statements to make. You may be thinking, "Andy, that is a strong statement!" My reply back to you would be, "No, the vow made by a sinner that lacks the capacity to pay the vow is a strong statement and a dangerous one at that!"
God is not mocked. We can't "win" the game of life. There is no winning, there is only grace. We are born enemies of God, in active rebellion against our Creator. We sin because we are sinners, we are not sinners because we sin. To think that we could actually hold up our end of any bargain made with Almighty God is futile thinking at best.
So, I think the Christian would be very wise to consider their words very carefully before asking God for anything and then adding any vow or stipulation to it at the end. Rather, I would offer the words of the preacher who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes when he says, "fear God."
What does this mean?
It means that instead of being so preoccupied and worried about our individual circumstances and whether or not they are favorable, we should rather, fear God.
Instead of attempting to escape the consequences of our own sin by offering some futile vow to our Maker in a meaningless attempt to appease Him, we should rather, fear God.
We need to just simply love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, and mind; love Him supremely and keep His commandments. We need to obey God, we need to serve God, we need to bring all glory to Him. If we find ourselves in sin, don't make a vow, just repent, confess, and move forward in obedience.
Furthermore, if there is something about our circumstances that is troubling to us, instead of attempting to use God like some sort of cosmic bargaining chip, we need to trust Him for our daily bread and understand that we are called to join in the sufferings of Christ.
All of the major promises of God concerning our inheritance are for eternity and not for this life. There are indeed promises for this life and blessings for sure but they primarily have a spiritual nature to them. God promises us first and foremost in this life, Himself. He promises to give us everything we need to be sustained and to have His very power to thrive spiritually in this life.
This is why the writer says, "It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay" (Ecclesiastes 5:5 NASB). The reason for this is if we are simply serving God and walking with Him, He already knows what we need and He already knows what the desires of our hearts are. There is no need to bargain with Him or attempt to manipulate Him into giving us something with the promise of something from us in return.
This is especially true in light of that fact that there is nothing we have to offer God that He could possibly need in the first place, for He is God and we are not. He is already the Creator and owner of everything including our very souls. So, the idea that we could offer God something from us and that would somehow put Him in a position to come through for us in some way is sin and empty words at best.
Rather, as the preacher, the son of David, the King in Jerusalem writes in this book, everything is vanity and empty aside from fearing God and keeping His commandments. So, instead of attempting to make vows that we cannot pay or keep, we should rather, fear God, live for Him, and walk in the righteousness of Christ while trusting God for everything of which we have need.