33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath 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.
The word used here translated as swear or forswear means to commit perjury or to swear falsely. And Oath is a pledge or promise we make, a restraint.
In today’s society it’s hard to trust people’s words as so many times promises and oaths are a dime a dozen, and not kept as often as they used to be. There was a time when a man’s word was their honor and bond. A time when a simple handshake was enough to seal a deal. Wouldn’t it be great to get back to those times?
The surprising thing to me was finding out it wasn’t all that much different at the time Jesus was addressing the issue. Apparently, Jews were swearing by all kinds of things knowing full well they did not intend to carry out. They felt safe in doing so because they were not swearing by God. Their idea was as long as they honored what was written in Lev 19:12
they weren’t breaking any laws.
You shall be careful to perform that [vow] which passes your lips, just as you have made a voluntary vow to the Lord your God, just as you have promised with your own words (mouth).
37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
This doesn’t mean we only keep to those things which we say yes and no to, it means people should know we are a person with integrity. When we say we will do something, we make sure we do it. And if we say we will not do something, we don’t.
Because so many do not have integrity, we have to have contracts and formal agreements. And even with those, there are law suits and disputes. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if, even if only among Christians, you knew when someone said something you would know they would honor it?
If we really think about it, why would we even need to say, “I promise,” to anything. If we need to say “I promise” then it would imply other times we say we are going to do something, we may not. O.o Honestly, never thought about it until contemplating this scripture, but it’s the reality of what we are saying, isn’t it?
The hard part is taking a hard look at ourselves and asking the question, “Do people know when I say I will or will not do something, that I will/won’t?” Do they? If not, maybe it’s time to make some changes. Why? Because Jesus said so.
Done with Promises, Promises … Are You?