When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; For He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed—Better not to vow than to vow and not pay. – Ecclesiastes 5v4-5
I was watching an episode of the Andy Griffith Show the other day. For the poor folks on this side of the pond, this is a 1960’s American comedy set in a small southern town. It is based around the sheriff, played by Andy Griffith (Matlock), and his deputy Barney Fife played by comedian Don Knotts. The assorted town characters round out the cast.
In this episode Barney was away on holiday and Andy had to go to a sheriff’s conference so he needed someone to mind the office. Goober, the local mechanic, volunteered to do the job. He swore up and down that he could do the job and that he would be there early Wednesday morning.
On Wednesday morning Andy stopped by the courthouse and no one was there. He found Goober at the garage working on a carburettor. When confronted Goober just dismissed it with, ‘Well, that’s where you’ll have to call me a liar.’ The rest of the episode is a hilarious episode involving a car being taken apart and reassembled in the courthouse, but, sadly, that is not the point of this thought.
The point is Goober’s irresponsibility. He promised to do something, and then he didn’t do it. In the episode it was comedic, but in real life it isn’t funny. There is little more frustrating than counting on someone who lets you down.
Here Solomon warns of making a rash vow to God, but underlying that is a more general principle that Jesus talks about in His parables. He speaks of two men and a task that had to be done. One man says he will do it, but never does. The other says he can’t do it, but finds a way to get the job done (Matthew 21). The second of course, does the will of the Father.
Words don’t mean much. It is the doing that counts. We need to be doers of the word, not hearers or sayers only.