I would guess that a lot of Christians aren’t fond of reading the Old Testament; especially chapters like Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. But I think that as you become more comfortable with the Bible, you should really take a look at these books as well. Though things have changed, and many of the practices the Israelites had to perform are obsolete, through these books we’re able to understand more about our God. We learn about his character and how he thinks. One such example is from Numbers chapter 30, verse 2 which says:
“When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.”
In our culture, we are not ones who generally take our vows very seriously. We may promise God that if he gets us out of a jam then we’ll do something for him in return, but don’t follow through. We also flippantly promise things to people as if our words aren’t binding. Some people don’t even take their marriage vows seriously. But here in Numbers we learn that God takes our vows (or promises) very seriously. He says that if we make a vow to him, we must not break it. And if we believe that God is the same yesterday, today and forever, we should also believe that his character doesn’t change. God wants us to honor our words to others, but even more importantly, we are to honor our words to him. James reminds us that it is better if we don’t promise anything; that we should just say “yes” or “no” and let our words be our bond, even though they aren’t sealed with a promise. That is always the safest bet.
The Bible teaches us time and time again that what comes out of our mouth shouldn’t be taken lightly. It teaches us that our words can be used to build others up or to tear them down; to heal or to destroy. Numbers reminds us that, likewise, our vows (or promises) are important too. God expects us to honor our promises, especially those we make to him. And James reminds us that it is better if we don’t promise anything at all. Just let your “yes” or “no” stand for itself. Any way you look at it, we really need to consider what we say before we say it, because our words have the potential to get us into a lot of trouble. If we are able to consider what we say before we say it, we have a better chance of vetting what comes out of our mouth, thereby minimizing the chance of regretting what we’ve said, or promised.