“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ 34 But I tell you, Do not swear 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 Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”
DRINK IT IN:
Have you ever participated in a “swearing in?” That’s what Jesus is talking about here. He is clearly commanding us not to swear to anything other than God Himself. To swear on something is what we do when we want to strengthen our swear/oath by giving credit to the Bible, to death, or to “your mother’s grave, etc.
So what about “being sworn into office?” What about raising your right hand in court proceedings and “swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God?” This is what Jesus is talking about. Jesus is saying, don’t do this anymore. So back in 1772, some people requested a change in the court system.
Did you know that there is an “Alternative Oath” that you can request, so as not to break this command of Jesus, in the American court system? It was created in 1772 in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania’s oath is derived from colonial Laws of the Commonwealth, enacted in 1772, and reads:
“You [and each of you] do swear by Almighty God, the Searcher of all hearts, that the evidence you shall give this court [and Jury] in this issue now being tried shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth and as you shall answer to God on the last great day.”
Did you notice that the swearing was to no one, but God? This is a technical issue. Some might argue that this is a ridiculous technicality and a waste of time. I might push back and say that details matter to God. What if Noah ignored a few details from God about building the ark? Where this command is tricky is in the wording. The command says not to swear and then gives details about not swearing on heaven, earth, Jerusalm, etc. It seems to give us the okay to swear on the name of Almighty God. The dilemma we face is trying to determine which law we want to obey. The Bible tells us to obey the law of the land. If this is the case, then we are called to have a swearing in when we testify in court, or need to be sworn in as a public servant. But, we also must guard swearing on anything but Almighty God. I think the alternative oath is the answer. Next time I am in court or being sworn into office I will request this alternative oath and thus honor this command of Jesus. (Hopefully it will never happen. I have no desire to be involved in something that causes me to testify in court and even though I’ve always had a childhood dream of being President of the US, its highly unlikely!)
This command of Jesus is really simple and not needing deep explanation. The previous devotions I have been doing are longer…but of course…good! (Just ask me.) So…this devotion is shorter.
Jesus is simply saying to all of us, ‘if you commit to do something, don’t over promise, don’t swear on your mother’s grave, just do it!” If you say you are going to do it, then do it. If you say you are not going to do it, then don’t do it.”
This is integrity. This is one area where Christians should be known for doing.
We’ve seen it in the movies. When someone says they are going to do something and then they back it up with all kinds of promises, over promises and then they throw in a few extra guarantees that it is going happen. Its as if the person is trying to persuade themselves. When this kind of thing happens, its like a person saying they are going to come through for you, but as they say it, they don’t recognize that they are shaking their head in disagreement at the same time.
Have you ever met someone that is known as, “a man of his word?” “A woman of her word?” You’ve heard people say, “Back in the day, a handshake is all that was needed.” Or, “If ‘so & so’ says, “yes,” then consider it done!” These are comments of trust and integrity and if you know someone like this, you value them greatly.
Those phrases are earned. That reputation is earned through hard work and integrity. You can’t wake up one day and own this kind of reputation. You and I have to wake up today and begin to do what we say we are going to do. And then tomorrow, repeat. Then the next day, repeat! Over and over again.
SWEAT IT OUT:
Are there things in your life that you have been making promises about, but you are failing in following through on your word?
If you are doing this…do you agree with me that it is creating a horrible reputation of you?
Is there anyone in your life that you need to apologize to for not coming through on your word? If so, contact them and simply apologize and end the conversation. Then, after you apologize, just go about coming through on your word without saying anything else. Let your actions prove your apology.
If you are a person who has been doing a lot of promising and making false oaths…it means that your word means very little to people, and because of this, you will not be a very trusting or trustworthy person. If this is the case for you, then admit it, confess it to God, and start re-earning your new reputation.
If you are a person who comes through on your word…then keep it up! Its a great thing to continue. You will hold high value in other people’s lives.
Today…pay attention to yourself and the people around you and be observant about what they say they are going to do and whether or not their actions back up their words.
I know that you agree with me in the fact, that Christianity needs more people of integrity who do what they say and say what they do!
Its starts with you. Don’t let this devotion make you focus on others and their short comings. Only focus on you.
Make a life long commitment to simply let your yes, be yes, and your no, be no! How refreshing.
Watch how it will impact the people around you.
If you do this…you will be a lot like Jesus and you will win in life, and it will be because you started winning from the inside! This focus is about internal strength and integrity. This is something that is best done when you are focusing on being just like Jesus and keeping in His presence moment by moment throughout your day. Your word matters. Keep it simple. Yes. No.
Keep Hydrating! I hope these are good challenges for you. They are for me.
Do you swear you are going to stay committed?
Swear on your Mother’s Grave that you will!
That was a test.