“Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” Matthew 5:37
We’ve all had conversations with other people where we tell them something and they respond in a skeptical way to our story. Typically, we respond to their questioning by saying “I swear it happened!”
In this verse, Jesus is responding to the teaching of a group of religious people known as the Pharisees. This group meant well but many times they either added or subtracted from the original intent of God’s Word. They were teaching that if you swore a false oath to do something, God required you to go through with it. Their emphasis was on the “formula” of the oath instead of the intent behind it.
We’ve all made little oaths like this before. We’ve all made promises to others fully knowing that we never intend to follow through.
In this verse, Jesus says the problem is not the actual promise itself but the heart of the one making the promise. Jesus is stressing honesty and character instead of swearing false oaths and empty promises. People should believe you because you are trying to honor Christ with your character, not because you swear “on a stack of Bibles” that what you’re saying is true. Jesus’ message is very simple: speak truthfully all the time and let your integrity speak for itself.
I hate having to wonder if someone is telling me the truth because it keeps me from actually enjoying our conversation. It’s actually much more freeing to talk with someone you know you can trust because it allows you to rest while you are talking.
How are you honoring Jesus with the promises and conversations you have with others? How has the Gospel freed you to be honest and open with others instead of hiding behind empty promises?