33 “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.' 34 But I tell you, Do not swear 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. 37 Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”
Blurting out oaths has a tendency to reveal and emphasize the wickedness within a man’s heart. Furthermore, if deceit is backed by swearing oaths it renders one highly liable to divine wrath. 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 and further the transgression by adding an oath – particularly when we lie against the Truth and then solemnly call God to witness to it.
“The teachings of Jesus hit us where we live. We cannot stand as imposters before Him for even one second.” Oswald Chambers
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 – that should certainly make us want to duct tape our lips!
35 “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. 36 But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matt 12:35-37 (NIV)
"Character in a saint means the disposition of Jesus Christ persistently manifested." Oswald Chambers
“If our fidelity is known, that will suffice to gain us credit; and if it is questioned, to back what we say with swearing and cursing, is but more suspicious. They who can swallow a profane oath, will not strain at a lie.” Matthew Henry
Interestingly, in reading these verses for today, I am reminded that nothing is ours but everything is related to God - all being His. The springs of all being find their source in His Fountain. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians:
7 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 Cor 4:7 (NIV)
Furthermore, Paul states the wisdom of this world and the boastings of man are but foolishness in God’s sight. Proclaiming oaths after something we have said has a tendency to demonstrate smugness in our own wisdom - a permeating pride within regarding our rightness on a matter. This is particularly distasteful when believers argue their points regarding spiritual matters and follow them by an oath. We must beware of this – it is doubtful one ever argues anyone into heaven. Besides that, Scripture tells us we are to do everything without complaining or arguing as we hold out the Word of Life:
14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 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 16 as you hold out the word of life. Phil 2:14-16 (NIV)
Worldly wisdom is foolishness in God’s sight. Believers are to know and live by God’s Truth:
19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; 20 and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” 21 So then, no more boasting about men! 1 Cor 3:19-21 (NIV)
25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength. 1 Cor 1:25 (NIV)
“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