Watch Your Words!
“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.’ But I tell you, Do not swear 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. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:33-37)
A believer’s word, demonstrated by the actions of their lives, is to be sufficient–we need add nothing more.
Christians are to be honorable and trustworthy. We are to be known as people of our word. Seeking to live our lives above reproach, we are not to practice deceit.
Truthfulness in our day seems to be such a rarity that we think we must end our statements with some sort of vow to add emphasis or credibility. Jesus tells us to get rid of all rash and unnecessary swearing. He tells us later in Matthew we will one day be called to give an account for the careless words we speak:
“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:35-37)
In reading these verses for today, I am reminded that nothing is ours but everything is related to God; it all belongs to Him. Paul tells us:
For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? (1 Corinthians 4:7)
Proclaiming oaths after something we have said has a tendency to demonstrate smugness in our own wisdom; it tends to promote a permeating pride regarding our rightness on a matter. This is particularly distasteful when believers argue their points regarding spiritual matters. We must beware of this! It is doubtful one ever argues anyone into heaven. Scripture tells us we are to do everything without complaining or arguing as we hold out the Word of Life:
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life. (Philippians 2:14-16)
Worldly wisdom is foolishness in God’s sight. Believers are to know and live by God’s truth:
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” So then, no more boasting about men! (1 Corinthians 3:19-21)
Take It to Heart
For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. (1 Corinthians 1:25)
“You cannot imagine how great is people’s foolishness … by hoping in themselves and putting trust in their own knowledge.” (St. Catherine)
“A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.” (Alexander Pope)