Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Do You Make Empty Pledges Just For Palmarès?

There are words that are intermittently and interchangeably used nowadays. Initially, a pledge was something you gave someone to hold till you sent your gift (Gen 38”17). Everything was accepted except human life (Deut 24:6). You were also not authorized to enter into someone’s house to seize his pledge. The second is a vow. A vow was a votive offering you promised to give to someone towards a cause. For example, you can promise $1000 to a cultural organization towards their efforts to build a school. You could promise $100 to a church towards missions. However, the word vow is now commonly used as pledge although the real word we should be using is a vow. In a pledge, if you did not come back to fulfill your promise, the victim could keep your pledge but in a vow, you were dedicated to fulfill it (Num 30:2). While there was freedom in fulfilling a pledge, you were obliged to fulfill a vow because it was a debt! Nowadays the word pledge has replaced the word vow. For example: When you go to a cultural organization night and say you pledge $2000, you have committed yourself to make a votive offering (obligatory gift) because you are not giving them anything to keep till you bring your gift.

When I was writing this lesson, I remembered that I had made a pledge to one of my ex students. I had to go and fulfill it before I could post my lesson. The pledge you make is made unto God. It is not unto man though it is man who takes it. You are telling God to hold you by your words. Can we trust your words these days? I hear many girls tell me that you cannot trust a guy these days. The guys too say the same thing. Perhaps many do not know what a vow or pledge is. Let me show you examples of people who made such vows and how they fulfilled them. Solomon said God has no pleasure in fools, so if you make a vow fulfill it. (Ecc 5:4). It is better you do not vow than that you vow but do not pay (Ecl 5:5).

Let me put this into perspective. There are marriage vows, love vows, ceremonial vows (pledges) and many others. When a man and a woman promise to marry each other till death do them part, that is a vow they have made to each other. When you tell someone that I love you and will never leave you, that is a votive offering you have made. When you promise your daughter that if you pass the graduation test, I will buy you a laptop, you have just committed yourself to a pledge. If you promised to give $50 to a cultural group during their convention, that is a pledge. If you promised a church to give them $10,000 for the construction of church building, that is a pledge. Or perhaps you pledge to support the Cancer Society with a $10 a month donation. Such a promise was not a habitual or common promise or practice you made everyday. It was also not a promise you made or took lightly. If you pledged, you must fulfill it (Deut 23:21). If you know you will not do something, do not say it. Do not promise it! The only time you could not fulfill a vow (pledge) was if you died (Deut 23:22). A vow was the same as a written contract: it was not to be broken no matter how foolish it was.

For sample, if you promised a group $100 because you wanted to amaze a girl sitting on the other end that you are rich, you were obliged to pay the vow. If you made a vow during a fundraising party to give $500, you are obligated to pay your vow. It is not if but just when, but you must pay it. Sometimes you hear people who go to fundraising parties and pledge $1000 here and $1000 there but just to boost their palmarès, and they do not pay. Know that it is a sin before God and actually it brings you a curse. That is because the person who always breaks his promise brings a curse to himself/herself. If you know you cannot fulfill a pledge then don’t do it. No matter how people coerce you and flatter you with titles, don’t do it if you will not fulfill it. Sew your coat according to your size.

I went to one party, and they called me to sit with the other dignitaries. I knew I did not have money and did not want to make a pledge. So I refused going to the high table. They begged and promised me they were not going to call me for money. I said, man, I don’t believe it. I am sitting down here. I am just fine. I knew that sitting on the High Table comes with donation or pledges (vow), and I was not ready for any.

Perhaps they are building a church somewhere, and the pastor is asking you all to promise how much you will give. If you know you do not have money, there is no reason to pledge. God knows you cannot give what you don’t have. But if you decide to make a pledge just to please the pastor and the Christians, you must pay the pledge. The church has the right to ask you the money as a debt. There is a very sad and moving story of a man who kept his words.

Jephthah’s father got him from wedlock with a harlot. His step brothers and step-mother drove him away from their house. But when they were attacked by the Ammonites, they went and solicited his help. He asked them to make him their leader first before he could fight for them. They accepted and did according to his wishes. Then he in turn made a vow to God that if he won the war, he will give to God the first thing that came out of his house to greet him. Jephthah had only one daughter and the only child.

In those days when someone opened the door, they first sent out the sheep and cattle. But on that faithful day, when Jephthah came, rather than the cattle, it was the daughter who was the first person to step out. The excitement to see the father had made her to forget ushering the sheep out first. Rather than joy, it brought him sorrow as the Bible says “when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back”. She told her father to carry his vow but to give her two months to bewail her virginity. After two months, she came back, and her father sacrificed her to fulfill his vow. Though it was foolish, but he had to do it.

Hannah was another example who promised God that if God gave her a child, she will give Him back the child to serve him as a priest. That is how and why Samuel became a priest (I Sam 1:11; 21).

So let me ask you this. Have you made a pledge anywhere? Did you pay it? You must pay it. If anyone made a pledge to an association, their names should be written in the book of debtors and they should be required to pay the money with every debt collection procedure followed.

Until then, pay your pledges for they are debts.

Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk

“Bonyfish beware because the same net that caught the jawless fish, caught the cartilaginous fish” (Hamilton Ayuk).Beware earthly paradise seekers because there is a serpent in every paradise"(Hamilton Ayuk).Idle people write, idler people read, and idlest people read and whine that idle people are taking their time (Hamilton Ayuk).

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