“Or if a person thoughtlessly takes an oath to do anything, whether good or evil — in any matter one might carelessly swear about — even though he is unaware of it, in any case when he learns of it he will be guilty.”
About ten years ago, I was reading stories to my two youngest children who were then eight and five years old. Bedtime reading was (and sometimes still is) a happy nightly ritual for us. Tired from the end of a long day, I made a business proposal to the children. They could massage my weary feet for a wage of 50 cents each while I read to them. They agreed and readily fulfilled their part of the bargain. When we were done with stories and foot rubs, both kids excitedly asked about their money. I tucked them in bed, kissed them goodnight, and promised to pay them in the morning.
In the morning I forgot all about our little agreement. About a week later, one of them reminded me and I said, “Oh yeah. I’ve got to take care of that. I'll pay you later.” I was busy, and again soon forgot.
Another month passed. I was reading the Bible as a part of my daily devotional routine when I stumbled upon these words from Leviticus:
“…if a person thoughtlessly takes an oath to do anything,…
in any matter one might carelessly swear about — even though he
is unaware of it,… when he learns of it he will be guilty.”
The Bible nailed me. I remembered my promise. I immediately felt “guilty” when it dawned on me I forgot to pay my little workers. I instantly located four quarters. At breakfast I announced to my children, “I have something for you.” My eight year old son quickly responded: “I know. You’re going to pay us our 50 cents!” I may have forgotten, but he certainly did not!
The guilt vanished the moment I handed over the money. It felt good to pay my debt. It was definitely worth a buck. Freedom from guilt is worth any amount of money.
The drawing of the parent reading to a child is used by permission from "First Steps A Parent Information Handbook" produced by Parents, Let's Unite for Kids (PLUK) and staff illustrator Karen Moses (http://www.pluk.org/).