IS GOD PUNISHING ME FOR UNFULFILLED VOWS?
------original message ----- From: DEUS ESTA ME PUNINDO? Sent: friday, sept. 3, 2004 18:53 Subject: O QUE EU FAÇO? Dear Reverend Caio, I have been a frequent visitor to the site which has been of blessing to thousands of people. Congratulations for the simplicity and abundance of spiritual food. Everything here is simple and filled with richness revealed by the Spirit. Blessed be the Lord for this channel of blessings! I have a major question and I kindly ask you to clear it up for me. Before writing, though, I conducted a query on the site links (letters, reflections and devotionals). Having found nothing related to the subject, I decided to submit this mail. Anyway, if the site contains anything on this issue, please let me know and I will browse the archives, right? My question is about “making a vow to God”. The Bible says: “When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools”. This Biblical statement brings deep sadness into my soul. I feel as a fool before God since I made a vow but I haven’t fulfilled it. The worst part of it is that it didn’t happen only once... So, I have the feeling that God is somehow punishing me - everything I do comes out wrong. Absolutely everything.... I feel that there is a curse in the air... ....that God is opposed to me in such a way that everything I do comes out badly.... ...absolutely everything. As a result, I have fallen into depression. Even getting up from bed is hard for me because I know that everything I try will end up badly. But before the bad times I tried hard, I really tried hard... I would like to know how God treats this matter, and what should I do in the case of the unfulfilled vow.... Should I assume that God is charging me through the storms that have hit my life”? My problems range from financial troubles to health disorders. I have watched my life and my business “go down the drain”. I don’t know what to do... I keep looking for a reason for such a failure, I try to do things perfectly but It does not work at all, come rain or come shine. I have considered committing suicide but frankly, I don’t think I would be courageous enough. Suicide is something I have always despised. On the other hand, now I can clearly understand an individual who commits suicide; some time ago I could not understand it, but now I can even have mercy on such a person... Friends are gone, unpaid bills have increased, creditors are about to kill me and my health is declining. I am broke. Like the saying that goes: “I am as poor as a church mouse”. I am 35, single. What is it left for me? Pressure on me has been so intense that maybe suicide is a way out of this situation..... Can you understand me? I don’t want you to prevent me from committing suicide. This is not the point. Just tell me if you have an idea or a hunch of what is going on with me. I mean: Does God punish the one who vows but does not fulfill the vow? Tell me also how God trials us. I expect anxiously for an answer. Hugs, _____________________________________________ Reply: My beloved friend in the Lord of Life: Let your "Yes" be yes, and your "No," no! Jesus told us never to swear. A vow is an oath of donation, resignation or accomplishment. The reason why the Lord told us not to swear by heaven or by earth or by anything else is that none of us has power over nothing. “And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life's span?” - Jesus asked in Matthew 6 The Old Testament speaks of vows, specially in Psalms: “I shall accomplish the vows I have made” or: “The vow I made I shall pay.” The New Testament, however, speaks of Paul’s vows when passing by Jerusalem. He made these vows as a benevolence to third people. He wanted them to know that he was not against the legalist Jews (- “and all of them were zealous for the law”) who were gathered with James. Further, it was a vow related with fasting and head shaving, like the ancient Jewish tradition. It was a kind of “consecration ”. Nevertheless, Paul’s vow carried a devotional spirit and was a concession of his to the weak conscience of the Christians in Jerusalem. In the New Testament, there are no more vows to be made to God. Yes, in the New Testament the vow was made by God. Through this vow He declares that all things are paid up on the cross and that the Law is finished in Christ. And He shall never repent from this vow. “Having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross” - how could there be place for sacrificial vows since a sufficient sacrifice was made and finished in Jesus? In fact, my brother, there are no sacrifices left to be made as meritorious sacrifice before God. Making vows under this perspective is foolishness and ignorance. Jesus has paid the full price and made the sufficient sacrifice. It is only through His sacrifice that I have my own sacrifice fulfilled, once and forever. Besides that, In Jesus we have “God’s amen” to our lives. It is no longer necessary to have God saying other “amens” since he has already pronounced an everlasting Amen on the Cross in our favor. For this reason, concerning your vow, just ask God to forgive you for your ignorance and presumption. Nevertheless, bear in mind that what is happening to you is not a result of persecution. God is not persecuting you. This “God” who persecutes Christians in default is a creation of the “church” aimed at keeping “believers” under surveillance, guilt, dependence and control of those who dictate what a sin is or isn’t. If God were like this, he would be the devil! Observe the “diabolism” in your situation: You have made vows but you haven’t fulfilled them. Consequently, you have felt guilty, business started dropping, and you have fallen into debt. Now you think that God is asking you to render accounts for all this – a God who does not forgive his debtors, while He Himself tells us to forgive ours. And given all this, you still think of killing yourself. A Question: Who comes only to steal and kill and destroy? Once, John got angry at the Samaritans and asked Jesus if he wanted the disciples to call fire down from heaven to destroy them" But Jesus turned and said: "You do not know what kind of spirit you are of, for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." A question: Does this God of yours – who punishes the one who doesn’t fulfill a vow – resemble Jesus? Have you ever seen Jesus treating anyone like this? Take a look at the Gospel and observe the way Jesus deals with life, and ask yourself: Would the Jesus of the Gospel - not this “Jesus-creation-of-church” – treat me like this? God was in Christ and Christ is in God, consequently, I only understand God through Jesus. A GOD WHO DOES NOT RESEMBLE JESUS IS NOT MY GOD. You ask me: what has happened to me or what is happening to me? Well, I can not speak of your business since I don’t know what you do and how you conduct your affairs. Nevertheless, you told me that you carry things out with perfection. Based only on your letter, I want to outline some possibilities which will not take into consideration your business area, administrative methods or marketing. Instead, I will outline the psychological mechanism likely installed in you which is as strong or even stronger than marketing and other business aspects. You are a perfectionist who believe that a good system managed with excellence is the key to success. However, it is exactly the same perfectionism that triggers the response of psychological nature that you give back. Perfectionists, when frustrated, try to find a guilty one to blame for all that goes wrong. Thus, when you looked around and searched for a plausible answer for your failure in business but you couldn’t find it, you immediately turned to yourself and said: “I am the one to blame for this disaster, and certainly it has to do with the vows I haven’t fulfilled”. If you hadn’t fulfilled the vows but your business were working very well, you wouldn’t have remembered the vows at all. And there is more to it: in the prosperity Churches - where such things are encouraged – there are several people who have good results in life despite making vows and not fulfilling them. Thus, your reflection on the sin-of-the-unfulfilled-vow, only came up to you because of your collapse in business. Nothing is worse to a human being’s business than guilt. A man living under guilt is doomed to fail in whatever he does. Guilt carries with it a prophecy of self-fulfillment. That is: guilt is in charge of disarranging the individual’s energy, harmony, destroying its synergy system and the natural way of acting. It is a disaster. In my point of view, you are a victim of this guilt which the “non-fulfillment of the vow” codified as fear of God. Who can produce anything in this life under the belief that God is against him day after day, night after night? As a matter of fact, God is not persecuting you. You persecute yourself. You are the one who unauthorizes yourself to succeed in whatever you do because you feel indebted to God. God Himself is not charging you for anything, seeing that he understands your ignorance and naivety by making such a vow. Nevertheless, guilt has transformed you into your own competitor and unconsciously you boycott yourself in everything you do. What to do then? 1. Understand that your ignorance is forgiven. 2. Understand that a full sacrifice was made and your unfulfilled vows are already paid up on the Cross. 3. Receive by faith the clearance of your conscience seeing that in Christ, you owe nothing any longer. 4. Be thankful to God for the lesson you have learned from yourself and stop looking at God as if He were the boycotter of your plans. 5. Do not propose any bargains to God, like: “Take me out of this situation and I promise that I will fulfill my vows”. No, no, don’t do that. There is no bargaining with God - He is the God of Grace and deserved favor. He is not the God of negotiations. There are no deals to be made with God. 6. May you receive the peace coming from the faith in God’s love. Lean on His love and arise to accomplish your job without guilt. You are forgiven. The good lessons you have learned from this experience are the following: 1. You have learned the power of unreal guilt. The guilt you are experiencing is of psychological nature. It does not come from a certainty of God but from your own sense of justice. This psychological guilt brings disharmony, is messing your head up and spreading psychological destructive energy on your business. I am qualified to speak of this since I’ve dealt with these forces and I know the destructive power they have on the daily life of a businessman. 2. You have learned mercy. Now you know that you can’t judge anyone – you have assimilated that guilt and despair can make even a wise person lose common sense. 3. My friend, this suicide idea is “cast out in the Name of Jesus” and you are released and forgiven to go in peace. Understand that neither guilt nor desire to die comes from God. Let me tell you just one last thing: You are psychologically fragile and you need psychotherapeutic assistance. I personally know how you feel and I know it pretty well. But ,as hard as your situation is, it can’t justify your fall into the hole of self-destruction. This experience has allowed you to better know yourself and to treat yourself with generosity, kindness, zealousness, and less punishment. You should benefit from this opportunity to treat this over-perfectionism that disturbs your soul. Nothing is more perfect than the imperfections of a human being. Think of it, and write to me again! Caio Translated by Wanda de Melo