This is a guest post by my friend, Robert Locklear. Robert is the Minister of Worship and Music at Christian Church of Clarendon Hills (Illinois). Check out Robert's blog and follow him on Twitter.
In Judges 11 there is a story that, if you're not prepared, will catch you off guard. You read it and just hope for a Hollywood ending. You even pray for an Abrahamic ending! "Let there be a scapegoat".
You know there is trouble as soon as our protagonist, Jephthah, utters the words:
"If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord's, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering" (Judges 11:30-31).
With your mind's eye you don't read that and imagine a dog running out of the house. Nor do you see a goat or a sheep or a lamb. You see a beloved member of the household: an elder, a spouse, a child. What would make Jephthah make such an oath? What would compel him to keep it?
There is a beautiful song by Matt Redman called "Let My Words Be Few" and I couldn't help but think of it as I read this story today. Our words are important not just to each other but to God himself. Scripture is chock-full of passages about keeping your word. The psalmists regularly remind God of his promises to his people. The proverbs are full of wise counsel to listen much and speak little.
Sometimes in worship, I think we make our words many and don't add much meaning or heart behind them. What if we sang a lyric like "I will worship no one but You, Jesus" and go out and covet our neighbors property or brag at length about our new car or whatever it may be instead of letting the theme of our life be Christ? What if we sing a lyric like "Let me serve the poor and give hope to the hopeless" and then go out and snub everyone that crosses our path?
Our words, while often many, should keep their meaning for they are promises and declarations that only have meaning when backed by our actions. Let our words be few and let them count as we live up to the declarations we make.