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April 15, 2016
33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath,but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
It starts when we are kids. When one kid suspects another kid of not telling us the truth we ask them, “Do you swear?” And of course since we want them to believe us we respond, “Yes, I swear.” Then the next question inevitably comes, “Do you swear to God?” Church kids with any home training know better, but most will go the extra mile and swear to God. It’s not just kids. If we ever have the unfortunate occasion of being on a witness stand in a court of law we will be asked, “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole and nothing but the truth, so help you God?” In the olden days they asked people to put one hand on the Bible while raising their other hand.
Why all this? Short answer: We are a lying, cheating corrupted lot and we don’t trust each other. Remember, the Sermon on the Mount is not intended to offer us a new set of rules but to call us to abandon ourselves to the gracious, glorious Rule of God. It’s a manifesto for becoming the particular kind of people God made us to be. When we live under the gracious, glorious Rule of God this is what it looks like. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ No swearing to God. No swearing on the Bible. No swearing on your mothers grave. It’s yes or no, period.
Here’s where it gets interesting. [A]nything beyond this comes from the evil one. What the what?! Nothing is so inviolate and sacred and trustworthy as the Word of God. Becoming like God, means our word must become ever increasingly inviolate, sacred and trustworthy. Relationships are built on trust. When I ask you to swear an oath beyond your simple yes or no, I am questioning your word. It erodes our relationship. That’s what Satan does. He constantly questions God’s word. The first four recorded words we have from Satan are, “Did God really say?” (see Genesis 3:1)
When we question one another’s word in order to be assured they are telling us the truth here’s what’s really happening. We are telegraphing to them that our word must also be questioned. In other words, if I don’t trust your “yes” I’m letting you know through the projection of my own values that you should probably not trust my “yes” either. It’s another way of saying, “I don’t trust you and you probably should not trust me either.” Anything that does not build trust erodes it. If relationships are built on trusting one another’s word and the Kingdom of God dwells in our relationships—you do the math.
Jesus is calling us to become impeccable with our word; to always tell the truth no matter the situation.
1. What insights come to you from today’s Daily Text? Where do you say yes to this entry? Where do you push back?
2. Do you buy the proposition that when I ask you for more than a yes or no that I am letting you know you should ask me for more than a yes or no? Why or why not?
3. How will you become more and more impeccable with your word? Are you prone to tell little “white lies” or to shading the truth? What will it mean for you to tell the truth in the smallest and seemingly insignificant matters?
J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. email@example.com.