Making Oaths (or “swearing”). Matthew 5:33-37:
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.’ 34But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
The title of this article comes from a popular phrase, often used in Western culture, when a point comes in the conversation where one says to the other, “to be HONEST with you”, alluding to the possibility that they had NOT been honest until that particular moment.
Most of us, however, accept such a figure of speech without much thought about why people feel the need to clarify a moment of honesty in the course of a discussion. We just (mistakenly?) assumed they were being honest with us the whole time, giving them the benefit of the doubt.
Our willingness to assume the good intentions of others may be due to their track-record of being honest people. But the point is that honest people don’t need to make any special qualifiers, DIS-honest people do.
And that’s why Jesus challenged his followers to leave such nonsense out of their communications altogether. He went so far as to say that those who “swear” (i.e. making promises, NOT cuss-words) more closely resemble followers of Satan, not Christians.
So the next time you hear someone interjecting an “I promise” or “to be honest with you”, let them know that all those extra assurances are unnecessary…IF they’re being honest with you!