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Don't Make or Keep Foolish Promises

(The following is the February 17 devotional from my Next Step Devotions book. Before reading it, I suggest you read Mark 6 and pay close attention to verses 21-29.)

Have you ever made a promise in an emotional moment that you later regretted? King Herod did. He hosted a banquet for many important people. His daughter impressed the king and guests with her dancing, so Herod foolishly told her, “Whatever you ask me I will give you, up to half my kingdom” (v. 23).

It was not long before Herod regretted putting himself in that situation. Coaxed by Herod’s wife to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter, the daughter made the unthinkable request, and then Herod granted it to save face in front of the guests. Mark writes that “the king was deeply distressed” (v. 26).

Herod made two serious mistakes that resulted in John’s beheading. First, he succumbed to the moment's emotion when his daughter impressed everyone, spurring him to make the foolish oath. Second, Herod compounded the problem by carrying out his daughter’s ungodly request. It was bad enough that he made a rash oath. It was worse that he cared more about his reputation and saving face in public than he did about doing the right thing.

Making an oath is serious business. If you make a vow, people expect you to follow through. There may be severe consequences for failing to live up to a vow. But what if the initial oath is ungodly, unscriptural, and immoral? Should we still carry out what we promised? Is keeping our word to do something evil more important than doing the right thing if we must choose between the two? No.

God expects our actions to be consistent with his perfect, holy character and Word. We should not fulfill a sinful, ungodly promise we made in haste or poor judgment. Better yet, of course, do not make such promises in the first place, and you will never face that dilemma.

Next Step:

Have you ever made an ungodly promise to someone? Is one now hanging over your head that others expect you to fulfill? Correct the wrong; do not compound it.

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