Sunday Devotional – 8/3/20

Matt. 5:33 – “Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘ YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.’
Matt. 5:34 – “But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,
Matt. 5:35 – or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING.
Matt. 5:36 – “Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.
Matt. 5:37 – “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.
Here Jesus is referring to a known Old Covenant practice of making oaths in the name of the Lord (see Exod. 20:7; Lev. 19:12; Num. 30:2; Deut. 23:21-23). But Jesus again goes much deeper, getting to the heart of what God was seeking. What He comes out with is both profound, revealing and again raises the standard on what was considered to be Godly behaviour.
He assesses all the O.T. practices and tells us not to swear (make vows) at all. Why? Because the very existence of a vow introduces a double standard. It implies that a person’s word may not be reliable unless accompanied by some sort of verbal guarantee. What Jesus is saying is that we should not need to invoke vows, or the name of the Lord or other such practices because our integrity should be such that we can be trusted implicitly. Our word alone, should be our bond. However, He takes this even further.
We need to be aware that God is involved in all transactions, promises and commitments that we make. If we are under God’s rule (i.e. in His Kingdom) we are required to be absolutely trustworthy and transparently honest. To depart from this is to fall under the influence of the evil one. Jesus states, “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart” (Luke 6:45). This should be enough to make us as good as our word.
Funnily, throughout the history of the church there have been those who have felt that it was wrong to take an oath of any kind – many refusing to take the oath in court. This is a misunderstanding. Jesus allowed the high priest to put him under an oath (Matt. 26:62-64), and Paul called on God to be his witness (2 Cor. 1:23; cf. Gal. 1:20). What Jesus is meaning in Matt 5 is simply that we need to be speaking the truth at all times.
The Way of the Lord reaches far beyond any ability of external regulations, vows or other such means to speak truthfully and follow through with commitments. It calls for for nothing short of complete inward surrender to God’s purpose and nature. From this flows integrity, righteousness and utter trustworthiness.
If this is true in our lives, it is certainly not necessary to go beyond our word. Our yes will mean yes, and our no will mean no.

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