Intro: In our passage today, Jesus is sharing the heart of the Father regarding oaths—a solemn promise invoking a divine witness—with his disciples, religious leaders, and the crowd gathered on the Mount of Beatitudes. Making an oath was a common practice in Israel based on the influence of Middle Eastern culture. People made an oath by swearing to something greater than oneself. Israel saw heaven, earth, Jerusalem, and a person’s head as sacred. Jesus wanted them to know even their very words should be revealed as sacred.
You know that God expects us to abide by the oaths we swear and the promises we make. 34 But I tell you this: do not ever swear an oath. What is an oath? You cannot say, “I swear by heaven”—for heaven is not yours to swear by; it is God’s throne. 35 And you cannot say, “I swear by this good earth,” for the earth is not yours to swear by; it is God’s footstool. And you cannot say, “I swear by the holy city Jerusalem,” for it is not yours to swear by; it is the city of God, the capital of the King of kings. 36 You cannot even say that you swear by your own head, for God has dominion over your hands, your lips, your head. It is He who determines if your hair be straight or curly, white or black; it is He who rules over even this small scrap of creation. 37 You need not swear an oath—any impulse to do so is of evil. Simply let your “yes” be “yes,” and let your “no” be “no.”
It is the Truth—revealed through our words and actions—that makes our lives sacred. We are to live in Christ who is the Living Word of God. I challenge us today to let our “yes” be “yes” and our “no” be “no.” If we tell someone we are going to do something, we are making a commitment or giving our “word” to that person. He or she may be counting on us. If then we, as Christ followers, turn around and do not fulfill our commitment, we tarnish the reputation of Christ. Jesus was teaching his disciples the importance of revealing his character—truth—in all that is said and done. Jesus was not telling people to say “yes” to everything. On the contrary, he would rather us say “no” than to misrepresent his character. How strongly do you feel about your words?
Prayer: Lord, thank you for reminding me, today, about the sacredness of the Truth and my need to speak and act in it. You are the Spirit of Truth, so I know you will be guiding me every day toward more opportunities that will help me grow in your character. Thank you for the many ways you help me to honor and reveal your integrity. In Jesus’ name. Amen.