This page is dedicated to a variety of subjects that Jesus taught about which don’t necessarily have anything to do with money and possessions, which are covered mostly in our blog posts. Each article will have a new title, just like the articles posted on our blog.
“To Be HONEST With You…”
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!
There is a very popular misconception that people cling to when they are feeling judged by someone else. Many people (if not most people) repeat Jesus’ words as recorded in Luke 6:37:
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.”
If this were all Jesus had to say about the issue of judging, then we could conclude that it would be wrong to ever bring anyone’s faults/sins to their attention. After all, we wouldn’t want to be guilty of judging them. However, even when people use this particular teaching to excuse their wrong behavior, they almost never end up giving others the same mercy that they demand that others show them. Very hypocritical, isn’t it? On the other side of this equation, some people prefer to ignore others’ faults/sins in exchange for the same treatment. In other words, if you look the other way when I commit a wrong, I’ll look the other way when you commit a wrong. While people practicing this perverted view of “mercy” can technically say that they have not “judged” the other person, we believe this is not what Jesus intended when he tells us not to judge.
But wait a second, what if we found another part of Jesus’ teachings that actually ENCOURAGES us to judge? Would this be an absolute contradiction of the “do not judge” teaching? We think not, and we would suggest that anything Jesus says about judging has to be taken into an overall context, so that we don’t have a distorted or lopsided view of what he was trying to get across. Here is an example of Jesus telling us to judge: (Luke 6:43-44)
“For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. “For each tree is known by its own fruit.”
The question we must ask ourselves now is how one is to tell “good” fruit from “bad” fruit, without judging. Impossible, isn’t it? Even those who seem to be in strongest support of the “don’t judge” teaching are in fact passing judgement. What they are saying is that THEY have the right view, and THEY are the ones who decide what is right and wrong. For instance, suppose there are people outside of an abortion clinic who are opposed to abortion, and who are wearing signs that say so in different ways. It is clear that these people are making a judgement call, namely, that they believe abortion is wrong. In a way they are “judging” those who perform abortions or who have abortions. But the truth is they don’t claim that they are not judging. Now suppose someone else comes along who feels that these abortion protesters are wrong, and that they are being judgmental. They may state loudly to the protesters that “thou shall not judge.”
The problem is, they don’t recognize that they themselves are indeed passing judgment. They are judging that it is “wrong” to tell anyone else how to live. (While they are telling others how to live). While the protesters do not hide the fact that the believe abortion is immoral, the person who tells others not to judge is being hypocritical by simply judging that the protesters to have no right to share their views. (Note: the above argument is only intended as an illustration).
So how do we tell who is right in a case like the one above? We are forced to judge, aren’t we? I believe the fuller picture on the issue of judgement is HOW we judge. Do we judge based on reason or emotion? If we arrive at a certain conclusion, then our judgment must come from a place that is not purposely intended to hurt or attack the other person. We must judge with love and mercy, otherwise our judgment can become an excuse to hate the other person, and see them as subhuman. We must hear the other person out, and weigh up their reasons for why they believe or behave in a particular way. We must use the teachings of Jesus to give us a moral compass for making a judgement call. If we don’t, we have no real anchor for the “truth” as we see it. It can end up being just one person’s opinion versus another person’s opinion.
Another recorded example of Jesus telling us to judge is found in John 7:24:
“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
In order for us to make a right judgment, Jesus tells us to look below the surface, not to merely make an assessment based on a superficial understanding of a situation. One of the best ways we will be able to judge with discernment is to simply pray for wisdom. It has been said that wisdom is the ability to make a choice between two seemingly equal choices. If we are truly looking to judge correctly, and we pray for wisdom and discernment, then we are doing the best we can in that particular matter. We may end up being wrong, but at the very least, we have tried to be fair in our judgment.