Sunday, November 28, 2021
33-37 “And don’t say anything you don’t mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ and never doing it, or saying, ‘God be with you,’ and not meaning it. You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.
-Matthew 5:33-37 The Message
Verse 33: “Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’
Verse 33 study: The teaching is about breaking promises, and in this verse, he emphasizes telling the truth. Since people were breaking promises and using sacred language, Jesus had to teach about it. Keeping oaths and promises is one thing, but building trust and human relationships to commit are even more critical. The bible condemns making vows or taking oaths casually, giving your word while you know you won’t keep it, or swearing falsely in God’s name (Exodus 20:7; Leviticus 19:12; Numbers 30:1-2, Deuteronomy 19:16-20). Oaths are needed in certain situations only because we live in a sinful society that breeds distrust.
Verse 34: But I say to you, make no oath at all, neither by heaven, for it is the throne of God,
Verse 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.
Verse 36: Nor shall you take an oath by your head, for you cannot make a single hair white or black.
Verse 37: But make sure your statement is, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil origin.
Verses 33-37 studies: Oaths and vows are common, but Jesus told his followers not to use them. Their word alone should be enough (James 5:12). Are you known to keep your word? The reality is that truthfulness seems so rare that we feel that we have to end our sentence in, “I promise.” The easiest way to keep your word is being truthful; that way, you won’t have to be pressured to tell the truth when you didn’t keep your word.
Father, there are times where we don’t understand promises. Let this part of his teaching be the way to strengthen relationships with others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.