Today's Word of Encouragement
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.' But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything more than this comes from evil (Matthew 5:33-37).
In this teaching Jesus addressed the 9th Commandment, You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor (Exodus 20:16). The Law regarding oaths is found in Leviticus 19:12, You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord, and Deuteronomy 23:23, You shall be careful to do what has passed your lips, for you have voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God what you have promised with your mouth. God's people are forbidden to lie. Period.
Jesus said a person should always tell the truth - always. To break a wedding vow is to lie to your spouse. Not keeping a promise made to your child is to lie to your child. To swear to tell the truth at trial, then commit perjury, is to lie to God, to the judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, jury, and everyone who hears your testimony. And God takes lying very seriously.
Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool's voice with many words. When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands? For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear (Ecclesiastes 5:2-7).
For the Christian, an oath is a solemn declaration, appealing to God for the truth that is being affirmed, while swearing His wrath, and denying His grace, if what is said to be true is proven false (Alfred Barnes). This makes the three-time denials of Peter at Jesus' trial all the more shocking and horrific. Peter lied to the servant girl (Matthew 26:69; Luke 22:56; John 18:17), to bystanders (Matthew 26:73), and to 'others' (Matthew 26:71; Luke 22:58). He lied to Jesus, whom he said he would never deny (Matthew 26:35; Mark 14:31), his fellow disciples, who heard his vow to Jesus, and to God the Father by whom he appealed for affirmation of his vow. No wonder he was grieved in his heart and wept bitterly when the rooster crowed!
Jesus said, Let what you say be simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything more than this comes from evil. Difficult to do? Yes, but we will see how that can be honored in a person's life in tomorrow's Word of Encouragement.
"Father, any lying is an affront to You and stirs up Your anger toward the one who does not speak the truth. We may excuse ourselves for being dishonest, but our excuses only accuse us of ignoring and rejecting Your command for us to be holy and righteous. I ask Your Holy Spirit to convict me in being simple and direct in my conversations with others, and thereby avoid the opportunity of being dishonest. Amen."