Matthew 5:33-37 – “Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, take no oath at all, neither by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you take an oath by your head, for you cannot make a single hair white or black. 37 But make sure your statement is, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil origin.”
Trust is hard to gain and easy to lose. We set our hopes and expectations on what people say and then we find that a lot of people do not deliver. Over time it can be very deflating when a pattern develops in which we just cannot take someone at their word. Perhaps they have good intentions, but for whatever reason they just cannot deliver, and eventually we stop looking to them or having high hopes they will follow through on what they say.
Jesus reminds His disciples that as His representatives their words should not require any oaths at all. Oaths are invoking God or other sacred things as the guarantee of someone’s word, and no human can set themselves on God’s level of faithfulness. Only God is completely faithful to His Word and can swear oaths on Himself alone. Even the most faithful of humankind will occasionally drop the ball.
Jesus is once again reminding us of the power of the Holy Spirit to make us consistently honest and faithful where the swearing of an oath is completely unnecessary. He is also checking our heart’s motives to be honest with ourselves. Can we really deliver on what we are saying or are we just trying to impress someone and lying to ourselves? Representatives of Christ are careful not to invoke His name as a guarantee of our word, keeping ourselves in our proper place and Him in His proper place. Only Jesus is always faithful to His Word, and by His grace our ‘yes’ can consistently be true. We will add ‘no’ to our vocabulary because of our security in Him.
Heavenly Father, our Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for your insightful teachings that challenge us to remain humble and careful with our words and our representation of you. Remind us daily that we have nothing to prove, that we are secure in your love to say ‘no’ to that which you’re not leading us to do. Thank you, Lord, for being faithful to your promises, including helping us to grow more consistent in being completely honest. In Jesus’ name, Amen.