When you vow a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he has no pleasure in fools: pay that which you have vowed.
Read Chapter 5
Caesarius of Arles
It does a person no good to say that he possesses faith if he neglects to fulfill in deed what he promises in word. As the Scriptures say, “If you have vowed anything to God, defer not to pay it. For an unfaithful and foolish promise displeases him. It is much better not to vow than after a vow not to perform the things promised.” In order that we may understand these facts clearly from our relations with our servants, let someone tell me whether it is enough for him if his servant says all day that he is his lord and ceases not to commend him with praises but refuses to do what has been commanded. Therefore, if words without deeds do not please us, how much more can faith without works fail to benefit us in the sight of God? Above all, we must fear lest someone believes so strongly that he will receive God’s mercy that he does not dread his justice. If a person does this, he has no faith. Likewise, if he dreads God’s justice so much that he despairs of his mercy, there is no faith. Si...
This will be fulfilled by each one of us in this way. We pray when we renounce this world and pledge that, dead to every earthly deed and to an earthly way of life, we will serve the Lord with utter earnestness of heart. We pray when we promise that, disdaining worldly honor and spurning earthly riches, we will cling to the Lord in complete contrition of heart and poverty of spirit. We pray when we promise that we will always keep the most pure chastity of body and unwavering patience, and when we vow that we will utterly eliminate from our heart the roots of deathdealing anger and sadness. When we have been weakened by sloth and are returning to our former vices and are not doing these things, we shall bear guilt for our prayers and vows and it will be said of us, “It is better not to vow than to vow and not to pay.” According to the Greek this can be said, “It is better for you not to pray than to pray and not to pay.” .