HINDRANCES TO GODLY THINKING
Today we will look at how vows and judgments can interfere with living a changed life.
A vow is a solemn promise to do (or not to do) something. Vows are very important to God. He takes them seriously. Vows that have negative consequences in our lives are usually something we say we will never do, or be like someone. They often keep us from experiencing emotional freedom and healthy relationships with others. When you hear yourself use the word “never,” take a careful look. Do you want to live with the consequences of what you have just said?
Some examples of vows: “I will never be like _____.” “I will never have any friends.” “I will never do this right.” “I will never be good enough for _____.” “I will never move to _____.”
Vows like these can cripple our relationships with others and with God. These types of statements hinder our ability to surrender control to God. They limit our ability to believe for something more. If I repeatedly say “I will never have any friends,” I will eventually begin to behave in ways that enable the vow to become true. I believe I won’t have any friends, I have declared with my words I won’t have any, so why bother? No one wants to be my friend anyway. I will withdraw to protect myself from pain.
Vows can produce ungodly behavior patterns because they are not based on God’s perspective. What does God say is true about the vow you have made? If He says it is not true you will never have any friends, what is true? How will He help you walk in another direction in order to develop friends?
Vows are closely related to judgments. While a vow is personal and is a statement made about what you personally intend to do, a judgment is an opinion or conclusion made about others without God’s perspective. Judgments allow negative feelings and behavior to be expressed as a byproduct of that judgment.
God has designed the universe in such a way that basic laws govern it. Some of the moral and spiritual laws are:
- the law of honoring our parents
- the law of judging
- the laws of sowing and reaping
- the law of becoming what we have judged in others
One of the most basic laws mentioned in Deuteronomy 5:16 is “Honor your father and mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” This law is broken often and never repented of, so we continue to reap the consequence of a broken law.
Our parents (or caregivers) are the first people we have an opportunity to judge. Whatever area we don’t honor our parents in, is the area of life that will not go well for us. When we judge someone, even if the judgment is true, the law (principle) God has declared is that the measure you give out is what you must receive and it goes into effect. (Matthew 7:1-2)
Judgments are seeds sown that by law will grow and be reaped. The longer it stays hidden the larger it will grow and the more abundant the fruit will be. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows that he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)
The Law of Reaping and Sowing is a Kingdom of God dynamic we will never change. The Laws of Sowing and Reaping are found in Galatians 6:7-10: we reap what we sow, we reap the same in kind as what we sow, we reap more than what we sow, we reap in a different season than when we sow.
God didn’t make laws to govern the universe in order to be mean to us. The principles are for our wellbeing. When we obey the laws they work to cause us to mature in our character and conduct to be like Jesus. It is a Kingdom of God principle that sowing demands increase. In order to reap a bountiful harvest, we must sow bountifully. We can sow unto a godly harvest or an ungodly one. Choosing carefully the seeds planted will determine the results. What are you choosing to sow today, godly or ungodly vows? Godly or ungodly judgments?
We can break the cycle of sowing judgments that result in bitter root judgments (Hebrews 12:15) through recognition and repentance. If you judged a parent for being controlling, harsh and legalistic you have set yourself up to be controlled by someone. Perhaps you will even be controlling, harsh and legalistic yourself even when you don’t want to be.
Making judgments without God’s perspective are the most common, basic sin in our relationships. They begin the foundation for reaping a harvest of whatever and whom-ever we have judged.
There is a distinction between judging and discerning that is important to note: judging is holding someone guilty for something; discerning is identifying a concern for intercession. The difference is in the attitude I take when I recognize the truth about someone or a situation.
We are not free to avoid the consequences of our vows and judgments. But we can make the choice today to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what is in our hearts concerning vows and judgments so we can break ungodly cycles, start planting godly seeds, and reap a good harvest instead of a bad one.
PAL (Pause, Ask, Listen): “Holy Spirit, have I made a vow that is holding me back from walking in freedom? Have I judged this person by thinking/saying _____? Would you please help me embrace your perception about them so I can agree with you in prayer on their behalf?”
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” Matthew 7:1-2
Rev. Dr. Carolyn Allen has partnered in pastoral ministry with her husband, Ron, for 50 years. She has seen and lived a wide spectrum of church life in rural churches, suburban and city parishes. She has experienced several streams of the expressions of the Body of Christ.
Carolyn has a Masters in Christian Counseling and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies. Her own journey into wholeness evolved while raising a family and caring for others. She is an ordained minister on staff at the Heartland Parish, Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Carolyn recently published Journey Into Wholeness, a book that helps you learn foundational biblical principles that will lead you through practical ministry and personal application. Learning to ask key questions will enable the reader to evaluate thoughts that produce feelings that lead to ungodly behavior, if not challenged and changed.
Journey Into Wholeness is available on Amazon: www.amazon.com
You can reach Rev. Dr. Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org.