Question:

Hello,

I told God in a prayer that I give up earthly success. I think that when I said it I meant the pursuit of wealth. I am not sure because I think I was also imagining the idea of suffering like a poor person. I think the reason this situation came about was because I was thinking if eternity is all that matters, I want to be what I would call spiritually successful; that is, have good character. I think suffering can build character.

Because I said that in prayer, I do not know what to do. This problem went away for a while because I thought I was okay because I was telling God my choice, not what I will do it or make a deal. It was not a promise, but it came back yesterday and last night I slept on the ground with a blanket because I believed in a way that I have to suffer for the rest of my life or live like a poor person.

After reading some of the articles on promises, my concern is if I were to break it and repent, is my repentance trying to keep my promise, or am I free from the promise, as if it never happen? Can you show this from the Scriptures?

Also, what is my consequence? Technically I could live like a poor man for the rest of my life, poor people do it, so for me to break it seems selfish. The idea of "I could but because I do not want to or it is not best for my goals, I change my mind." This is causing problems for my family but I hate to do this to God. Also I am concerned this may lead to emotional suicide or hatred for God or physical suicide. It is one thing to suffer because of being poor, but it is another thing to suffer because of being poor when you don't have to and don't want to.

There is hope, I feel like I gave up control over a large portion of my life. Maybe some helpful information: I am under 20 years of age, and this may seem strange, but I did not know that when you say you will do something, that is a promise, I think I thought that a promise was more like an oath or vow, more extreme than saying I will do something.

This happened maybe 4 or 5 weeks ago. Because i thought that I was as okay, I resumed to my normal life. I probably have in some way sought out earthly success because I have been looking into college stuff and doing school, so did I break my promise? Am I to take my words literally or what I thought I meant as my promise?

In Exodus 32:10, at least in English, it seems God said "I will make you of a great nation," unless I am pulling this out of context. Would that be a promise? Then the Scriptures say in verse 14 that God changed His mind about the harm He would do to His people, so can I change my mind? How does that work? Maybe God was saying let me alone and (if you leave me alone) I may destroy them and (if you leave me alone) I will make of you a great nation or maybe I am over thinking it.

In addition, did I make a promise? I believe I said that I give up earthly success, not I will give up earthly success, etc. but I may have meant that was going to give up earthly success permanently.


Answer:

You gave up control over large portions of your life while trying to control how unsuccessful you will be in life? Sounds to me that you are still trying to control your life.

Thoughts are not promises. They are ideas that your are considering. I don't know what you told God in your prayer, but then it sounds like you don't know either. That too doesn't sound like a vow or a promise. You aren't even certain what you might have meant by what you might have said.

God said, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going" (Ecclesiastes 9:10). Yet, you are talking about ignoring your God given abilities.

Sufferings come in this world, so they certainly don't need to be arranged by you. In fact, Paul warned, "Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations -- "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," which all concern things which perish with the using -- according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh" (Colossians 2:20-23). If God chooses that you live in poverty or suffer, then you learn to be content. However, searching out a life of poverty doesn't make you more religious or a better person. Therefore instead of worry about a possible promise, just be resolved to be content with whatever God sends your way. As Job said, "Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" (Job 2:10). But it is God's choice. Meanwhile, regardless of your situation, resolve to live your best.

In regards to promises, live by Solomon's advice: "Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil. Do not be rash with your mouth, And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; Therefore let your words be few" (Ecclesiastes 5:1-2). It is not honor to God for you to throw out promises without careful consideration. When you do so, that is a sin. So apologize for your disrespect and do better in the future. Stop worrying about an empty, meaningless "might be" promise that goes against God's law.