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No Swearing Gosh Darnit!


 

Just fill in the appropriate letters…

  • A seven-year-old tells his four-year-old brother that they should start swearing. “When we go downstairs for breakfast, I’ll say ‘H_ll’ and you say ‘A_S.'” The four-year-old happily agrees.
  • At breakfast, the seven-year-old says, “Aw H_ll, Mom, I’ll just have some toast.”The surprised mother quickly smacks him. The boy runs upstairs crying.
  • The mother turns to the younger boy, “And what would YOU like for breakfast?”
  • “I don’t know,” the four-year-old blubbers, “but you can bet you’re a_s it’s not gonna be toast!”

When the topic of swearing comes up, we often think of things such as the joke above.  Jesus is directing this portion of the Sermon on the Mount towards something a bit more specific…our word.  By ‘word’ I mean our trustworthiness.  Our integrity.  Our ability to keep a promise.

 

We’ve often heard it said that in the “olden days” a man’s handshake was his “word.”  Meaning, you could trust a guy if he shook your hand.  It meant something.  Nothing more needed to be said between two men.  A firm handshake meant trust was present…even if the two men were not agreeable.  Jesus, throughout chapter 5 verses 17 and following, has been taking his group of 12 and anyone else within hearing distance, through some basics of why He came.  He is referring back to the 10 commandments and explaining the principles or the foundations behind them.  We’ve talked about His view of hate and murder, lust and adultery, of the finality of divorce, and now he brings up oaths and promises.

 

What we’ve found so far is that His standard is so far above the simple words of the 10 Commandments.  He is helping people to understand that this is how His Kingdom truly looks different than the world.  These are the standards of those who live with Him and under Him.  These principles help us really see what Holiness looks like…what true Love looks like.  Can you envision the picture?  We are in the world but not of the world.

 

Oaths.  Oaths combine two things.  An oath is both verbal and action oriented.  By this I mean that if you promise something, you’re bound to come through on that promise.  Promise your kids that you’re going to McDonald’s, and then pass it by on the way to have bologna sandwiches at home and you’ll know that you’ve broken a promise.  They will call you out!  “DAD!  You just passed McD’s!”  Next time you promise…there will be a flicker of hope and hopelessness in their heart.  They know you might or might not come through based on past experience.

 

Jesus wants us to build a past that looks like Him.  If Jesus promises you McD’s, you know He’s coming through.  Therefore, make sure your Yes for McD’s is a Yes.  He goes a bit deeper though.  Don’t swear an oath.

 

“I swear to God!”  Ever hear that one?  Does it really make you sound like you have more integrity, or does it make you sound desperate?  Jesus comes right out and says, “Don’t misuse my Father’s name.  It’s not for promises.  Let your Yes be Yes and your No be No.”  In fact, He says don’t swear by anything.

 

If you are going to live a life of kept promises, it’s not going to be by how many lofty words you place after the words “I swear…”  Your promise will only be kept or broken by your actions.  He’s lifting up the fact that words have meaning.  Attach God to a potentially broken promise, and you not only lessen your integrity to another person…but they might just look at God differently too.  It’s not the Kingdom way.

 

Words have meaning.  Words spoken that are followed by differing actions show even more of the heart.  What do you want your heart to look like to those around you?  How do you want your friends to see your heart?  How do you want your spouse and kids to see your heart?  How do you want Jesus to see your heart?  Do your actions match your words?  James says it best by writing, “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:26).  Your works will show your faith.  Don’t use God’s name or Heaven or your mother’s grave as a way to make your works, your vows, more than they are.

 

So do you know someone whom you can trust at their word?  They probably give you a fairly good picture of Jesus.  Haha…can you picture Jesus looking you in the eye and saying, “I swear on my earth dad’s head that I’ll come back from Heaven to be with you and take you home!”  No.  Me neither.  I just picture Him saying, “I’ll be back.”  I’m sure when the disciples heard this, they matched those words up with all of His previous actions and trusted Him.  We’re to be Jesus to others.

 

Another tough one.  Most of us talk a lot.  We have grand ideas and plans and promises…and many times we don’t come through.  Let’s get better at that.  Maybe talk less.  Maybe come through more.  It’s all for the Kingdom.

 

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

Ed

 

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