“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.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
Matthew 5:33-37 (NIV)
This is another shocking statement of Jesus to examine and dissect our hearts.
Here Jesus isn’t as concerned about what we say or swear by as He is our integrity.
In the Old Testament, God made it loud and clear how was serious He is about how people use His name and what people would do in His name. He stated in, one of the Ten Commandments, that to take it in vain is wrong. He also mentioned time and time again to fear Him and to make your vows or swear in His name only. (See Deuteronomy 10:20).
Taking an oath on an object, or vow vowing by someone (like my grandfather’s grave), or promising on something or someone is to do two things:
- Call them to witness what you have said.
- Call them to judge you should you not fulfill the oath or vow.
In this day and time, the Jews around Jesus’ would try to convince people by what the swore by. They would swear on the temple, or the gold of the temple. The greater the object or person they swore by, the more “secure” their words were implied to be.
Jesus, who declares later that He is Truth, wants those who follow Him to be truthful. Jesus calls his followers to be full of truth and give up making silly vows. The life what He calls His followers to is one where your yes is as good as if you were to swear by God in heaven. Because a lie is a lie and Jesus will be the judge. There is no need to call in a witness, because God is always a witness.
Our integrity is what Jesus is addressing. So if you promise to do something or you just say you will do it, it’s the same in God’s eyes. So why bother with the promise? Simply say “yes” or “no.”
Here is my next step:
Follow through with my “yeses” and know I’m accountable for my “no’s.”
What’s your next step?