Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.
Jesus’ instruction in today’s passage focuses on vows and oaths. A vow is a promise that takes place between man and God or between two individuals. An oath is a declaration that adds collateral for weightiness. In an oath, I swear by something or someone greater than myself. When a person takes an oath in court, they swear to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth—so help me God” (by someone greater than them).
It was the habit of religious leaders in Jesus’ day to take the truth and twist it. They taught that whether or not an oath was binding depended on the wording. They said that a promise wasn’t binding if you did not swear by God’s name. Kent Hughes expounds on this practice, “Evasive swearing became a fine art. The height of accomplishment was while lying, to convince another person you were telling the truth.” Jesus said to cut it out! Be a man or woman of your word. Don’t lose your integrity by playing with words. All you need to say is yes or no.
The same goes for today. Let your “yes” be “yes.” Let your “no” be “no.” Be a person of integrity. Be a person of your word.
Talking to God
Father, don’t let me play with the truth. Help me be a trustworthy person—starting at home. Help me be a parent who keeps my promises. Help me speak clearly and plainly with integrity. Help me be a person of my word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Today on The Journey Broadcast: