On 19 June 2003 my dad wrote down these five vows that he made before the Lord:

1.  Vow to give God all the glory in all your successes.

2.  Vow to confess your sins and do a thorough job of repentance.

3.  Vow never to say anything slanderous or destructive against any of God’s children.

4.  Vow not to own anything.  Leave all ownership to God.

5.  Vow that while you live you will seek to live with enthusiasm and joy by the Holy Spirit.

Then dad quoted Psalm 56:12, “I am under vows to you, O God.”

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10 thoughts on “My dad’s five vows”

  1. peter d says:

    I thought the Scriptures also state that one should not take an oath or make a vow to the Lord; hence, the Amish not “swearing”on the Bible even in court. Aren’t there warnings in the Proverbs that one could not keep one’s vow on his own merit?

  2. Alex Philip says:

    Could you flesh out the fourth vow for me? Did this mean renting a house instead of owning one? Leasing a car instead of buying one?

  3. Jeremy says:

    This reminds me of Tozer’s Five Vows…

  4. Kevin DeYoung says:

    Thanks. Encouraging and challenging. I’m grateful for the communion of the saints.

  5. Dan Church says:


    I think, #2 would ‘cover’ the sin of not being able to live up to these vows. Meaning in his repentence (I’m assuming)he would repent of failing to keep these vows.

    Without #2, then I think you’re right that these vows would seem to go against Jesus’ teachings.

    Thoughts, anyone?

  6. Heather says:

    If he was wrong to make vows, then I guess Jonathan Edwards was way off base when he wrote up his Resolutions. See http://www.apuritansmind.com/the-christian-walk/jonathan-edwards-resolutions/. The Bible doesn’t condemn making vows, just making ones you don’t intend to keep (Psalm 50:14, Psalm 61:8, Psalm 116:14, Proverbs 20:25 & Ecclesiastes 5:4-6 are a few examples)

    Jesus addressed the subject of “oaths” in Matthew 5:33-37. But I don’t believe this is the same thing as making a vow to the Lord. The oaths he references in this part of the Sermon on the Mount seem to refer to swearing either by the name of God or by some earthly object to prove the honesty and sincerity of a promise or statement. We should just be able to say Yes or No and leave it at that and be people of our word.

    It’s my opinion that making vows to the Lord still has a place in the Church but we do need to take them seriously and indeed repent if/when we break them. And we definitely don’t want to make them into a performance-based matter where we seek to impress God with our efforts but just as a reminder of what God has already told us to do.

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Ray Ortlund

Ray Ortlund is senior pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and serves as a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. You can follow him on Twitter.

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